by Bethany Blankley
Seventeen Republican attorneys general have filed an amicus brief with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a Florida law banning sanctuary cities.
The brief was filed by the attorneys general of Alabama and Georgia, Steve Marshall and Christopher Carr. Joining them were the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
The Florida case is currently on appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division.
In 2019, the Florida legislature passed a bill signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis requiring state and local government officials and employees to comply with federal immigration enforcement.
DeSantis said he was proud to sign the bill “to uphold the rule of law and ensure that our communities are safe.” He thanked state legislators “and the Angel Parents for their commitment to seeing this bill across the finish line. Their leadership has made Florida safer.”
Shortly thereafter, the city of South Miami sued, and later several other groups, claiming the law discriminated against foreign nationals living in Florida illegally. U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom granted the city’s request for an injunction, halting the law from going into effect. Florida then appealed.
The attorneys general argue Bloom legislated from the bench and exceeded her constitutional authority.
“The amici States must constantly defend against legal challenges to state statutes brought by those who oppose the results of the legislative process,” they argue in the brief. “These litigants invite federal courts to substitute their own judgment for that of the legislature. Too often, courts accept the invitation to usurp the legislative role by ascribing invidious intent to legislative enactments based on sheer policy disagreement, dressed up as supposed discrimination.
“The Constitution forbids that, and for good reason. … Federal courts are poorly positioned to weigh the many interests at stake. Their decisions are rendered without public debate. And, because they are not elected, they cannot be held accountable by the people.”
They argue Bloom “fell prey to exactly this temptation.”
“A legislative judgment that the country’s existing laws should be enforced is not an extreme or suspect position,” they argue. “Yet the district court held the law facially invalid, because it was supposedly enacted with discriminatory intent, even though the law specifically prohibits racial discrimination. The Court did not point to any discrimination apparent in the text of the law (there is none).”
AG Marshall said, “An unelected federal judge apparently disagrees with Florida’s political judgment about whether immigration laws should be enforced, but that should not be relevant,” adding that he hopes the court undoes Bloom’s “troubling ruling and puts an end to this practice of legislation by judicial fiat.”
In Florida AG Ashley Moody’s brief filed with the 11th Circuit, she argued Judge Bloom “committed numerous errors to arrive at the remarkable conclusion that the Florida Legislature had secret racist motivations in enacting SB 168.”
“The law promotes public safety in facilitating federal immigration enforcement against criminal aliens, while expressly prohibiting racial discrimination in its implementation,” the brief states. “The district court found a hidden racist motive only by ignoring key provisions of the statute, failing to afford the Legislature a presumption of good faith and placing great weight on the thinnest of evidence.”
There are currently more than 300 so-called sanctuary cities in the U.S. whose officials won’t cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates.
“Many sanctuary policies restrict law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration officials, including prohibiting their compliance with immigration detainers,” it states.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimates, more than 2.1 million illegal immigrants are living in the U.S., with more than 1.9 million of them having deportation orders from a judge.
In a recent letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz estimates that it would take 14.5 years to deport “just the aliens DHS has released under the Biden Administration,” into the interior of the U.S., including Florida. This is in addition to the 1.9 million with deportation orders who haven’t been deported.
He also recently cited DHS data indicating that the Biden administration has the lowest deportation rate in the history of the agency. According to DHS data, 48% fewer criminal illegal immigrants have been arrested and 63% fewer convicted criminals have been deported under the administration, he said.
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Bethany Blankley is a contributor to The Center Square.