United States – A U.S. judge of a federal district court halted part of a Florida law on Wednesday. The law provides for criminal penalties for the willful transport of individuals who are in the state without the right papers.

Legal Background and Plaintiff Concerns

This law became effective in 2023. It modified some provisions of the crime of human smuggling and made any such circumstances felonies, as reported by Reuters.

Judge’s Ruling and Constitutional Implications

According to plaintiff evidence, U.S. District Judge Roy Altman, the plaintiffs were “now too afraid to travel in and out of Florida with their undocumented friends or family members – for fear of being arrested or prosecuted or of having their family members deported.”

Altman, an appointee of Republican ex-President Donald Trump, halted the law, awaiting the determination of a suit by the Farmworker Association of Florida and seven individuals who say they have been affected.

Wednesday, Altman stated that the statute “extends beyond the state’s authority to make arrests for violations of federal immigration law and, in so doing, intrudes into territory that’s preempted” by U.S. law, suggesting that it is probably unconstitutional.

Political Context and Voter Significance

Immigration is an issue that featured in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s failed presidential bid, a Republican and is crucial to voters, as evidenced in the U.S. elections held on Nov. 5.

The Florida law also provided funds for the relocation of migrants without lawful status out of the state, limited accessibility to ID cards, and increased the number of businesses requiring a federal program to verify the legal right to work.

The case only addressed the aspect of the law regarding the transportation of migrants.

The officials in the governor’s office of Florida or the farmworker group volunteering for the case could not be reached for their comments.

The Florida law is among several enacted across the nation by Republicans, who assert that President Joe Biden’s administration has not addressed more of them recently.

The chief executives of Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma recently signed bills allowing local authorities to arrest, prosecute, and demand repatriation of those without appropriate papers.

National Trend and Legal Challenges

The Biden administration and civil rights groups have sued to prevent such laws, which they pointed out as other states attempt to enact similar laws violate federal immigration laws, as reported by Reuters.

Civil rights groups are increasingly pointing an accusing finger at Florida, contending that the new law that outlaws migrant transport will expose thousands of individuals to arrest for simple offenses such as driving a relative to a doctor’s appointment or going on a family vacation.