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Federal judge says Florida immigration law banning 'sanctuary cities' is racially motivated

U.S. Judge Beth Bloom rejected portions of the law, saying supporters showed no evidence as to why it was needed to lower crime.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A federal judge has struck portions of Florida's immigration law banning sanctuary cities, saying it's racially motivated.

The 2019 law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis bans local government sanctuary policies and requires local law enforcement to make their best efforts to work with federal immigration authorities.

U.S. Judge Beth Bloom rejected those portions of the law, saying that its supporters showed no evidence as to why it was needed to lower crime. Bloom said the sponsor of the bill — SB 168 — was guided by anti-immigrant hate groups such as Floridians for Immigration Enforcement.  

“Allowing anti-immigrant hate groups that overtly promote xenophobic, nationalist, racist ideologies to be intimately involved in a bill’s legislative process is a significant departure from procedural norms,” Bloom wrote. “This involvement strongly suggests that the Legislature enacted SB 168 to promote and ratify the racist views of these advocacy groups.” 

Bloom cited numerous communication between Floridians for Immigration Enforcement and state Sen. Joe Gruters’ staff. Gruters sponsored the bill and also serves as chairman of the state Republican Party.

DeSantis promised to appeal Wednesday's decision.

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