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Injunction sought against Florida's immigration law

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TALLAHASSEE -- After filing a constitutional challenge last month, attorneys for migrants and advocates Tuesday asked a federal judge for a preliminary injunction against a new Florida law that makes it a felony to transport into the state people who enter the country illegally. 

The motion, filed in South Florida, contends that federal law governs issues about transporting migrants, trumping the state law. 

"(The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) has squarely held that Congress has preempted the entire field of migrant transport - that states cannot enact any laws in this field," the attorneys wrote.

"That alone establishes that (the disputed section of state law) is preempted and must be enjoined. (The section) is also preempted because it prevents immigrants from entering Florida, and because it creates a new immigration classification that does not exist in federal law. Clear precedent establishes that both are impermissible."

The transportation prohibition was part of a broader law (SB 1718) that Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature passed this spring targeting illegal immigration. 

The law also includes changes such as requiring businesses with more than 25 employees to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of workers. 

Attorneys for the Farmworker Association of Florida and individual plaintiffs filed a lawsuit last month challenging the constitutionality of the transportation prohibition. 

A preliminary injunction, if granted, could put the prohibition on hold while the case plays out. "(The section of the law) is inflicting enormous harm on plaintiffs and countless other Florida residents," the attorneys wrote in a legal memorandum that accompanied Tuesday's motion. 

"It prohibits transporting people for any purpose, no matter how mundane or essential to daily life. As a result, some plaintiffs are now separated from their loved ones in other states. Others are threatened with being unable to feed their families or are being kept from their religious ministry. Florida has no valid basis to impose this kind of suffering on its residents." 

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Roy Altman. 

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