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Florida’s sanctuary cities ban has unconstitutional provision, judge rules

Local law enforcement can’t transport immigration detainees outside their jurisdictions, according to the federal ruling.
Protesters march in January 2019 after Miami's mayor assured President Donald Trump that the city isn't functioning as a sanctuary city.
Protesters march in January 2019 after Miami's mayor assured President Donald Trump that the city isn't functioning as a sanctuary city.
Published Dec. 22, 2020

A federal judge has ruled that part of a controversial 2019 Florida law aimed at banning so-called sanctuary cities is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom issued an order last week in advance of a trial scheduled to start next month in a broader challenge to the law. Bloom struck down part of the law that allows county or state law-enforcement officials to transport out of their jurisdictions inmates who are subject to immigration detainers.

Related: Ban on ‘sanctuary cities’ to become Florida law after anguished debate

The law allowed such transportation to federal facilities, including across state lines. But Bloom said the transportation part of the state law conflicts with federal immigration law and, as a result, is unconstitutional.

Under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, federal law overrides state law when such a conflict occurs.

The city of South Miami and immigrant-advocacy groups filed the lawsuit in July 2019, after the sanctuary cities ban went into effect.

The law requires cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, with Republican backers saying it would improve public safety. Critics, however, contended it was rooted in discrimination.

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