Immigration activists seek to declare law that bans 'sanctuary cities' unconstitutional

Law passed state House, Senate in May after heavy debate

By Hatzel Vela - Reporter

MIAMI - Immigration rights groups are taking their fight to court, voicing their displeasure with a new law they view as unconstitutional, and they are calling on a district judge to take action.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the law in June. It passed the state House and Senate in May after heavy debate. 

It's called SB 168, or the ban on "sanctuary cities" law. 

Now, several organizations say the new state law is unconstitutional and they are hoping a federal judge will issue an injunction essentially keeping the law from taking effect on Tuesday. 

The law also requires local governments to "use their best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law."

"It's something that the police, the local police, should have discretion whether to say yes or no when ICE issues a retainer," Mich Gonzalez, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said. 

Activists said local governments will be forced to honor the immigration detainer requests, which require law enforcement officers to detain a person on probable cause if they are removable under federal immigration laws.

The five-term mayor of South Miami, Philip Stoddard, said the law makes communities less safe.

"The trust between our police and our residents that we've worked so hard to create, and which has lowered crime in the city of South Miami by 47% over the past five years, will be destroyed the moment our police become ICE deputies," he said. 

But proponents of the law said undocumented immigrants have nothing to fear unless they break the law.

Opponents said even minor offenses could lead to deportation. 

The advocates believe this law and the overall anti-immigrant sentiment in the country has created a layer of fear in our communities. 

Stopping this law, they feel, will help reduce that fear. 

"It is the right thing to do because our families deserve to live free of fear in respect and dignity," Marleine Bastien, of the Family Action Network Movement, said. 

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