ACLU issues Florida travel advisory for ‘immigrants and people of color’

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TALLAHASSEE, FL – NOVEMBER 10: The American and Florida state flags fly at the Florida State Capitol building November 10, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida. Three close midtern election races for governor, senator, and agriculture commissioner are expected to be recounted in Florida. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

(WFLA) – Civil rights and immigrants’ rights leaders have issued a travel advisory for immigrants and people of color, urging them to use extreme caution when traveling in Florida.

The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted on Monday announcing the statewide travel advisory in response to proposed Senate Bill 168 and House Bill 527. The ACLU and the Florida Immigrant Coalition warns that visitors could have their constitutional rights violated if the bills are signed into law.

“The alert comes amid these bills’ steady progress in the Florida State legislature and cautions both Florida travelers and residents, especially Black, brown & Latinx communities, of the increased likelihood of racial profiling, unjust detention, and possible deportation if these anti-immigrant bills pass,” the ACLU said in a statement released to 8 On Your Side.

SB-168 is aimed at prohibiting sanctuary policies and requiring state and local government entities, along with law enforcement agencies, to support the enforcement of federal immigration law. HB-527 would do the same. It would also provide requirements concerning immigration detainers and provide a cause of action for personal injury or wrongful death attributed to sanctuary policy.

The ACLU says the bills require Florida municipalities to “expend already limited local resources” in order to comply with ICE detainer requests. The group says that could “expose them to significant legal and financial liability.” They say those costs would be passed on to Florida taxpayers.

“Last month, a report revealed that in just two years after agreeing to work with ICE, Miami-Dade County records showed that 420 people listed as U.S. citizens had false detainer requests issued against them,” ACLU officials said. “Its findings came on the heels of three lawsuits that have recently been filed against Florida authorities for holding people on detainers.”

Micah Kubic, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida, says ICE’s “broken detainer system” has already disrupted lives and families in Florida.

“If either SB 168 and HB 527 become law, then we’d find this disruption occurring on a statewide level. Forcing Florida law enforcement agencies to comply with ICE detainers only exposes themselves to damages liability for constitutional violations and threatens the civil rights of all Floridians,” Kubic said in a statement. “The Constitution guarantees that every person should have due process and the right to equal treatment, regardless of their citizenship.”

The coalition behind the travel advisory is also warning corporations that do business in Florida of potentially negative economic impacts. 

“The world is watching Florida right now, and what we do next as a state will determine whether people will still want to visit us and if industry leaders still feel comfortable doing business with us,” said Thomas Kennedy, the political director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

The group has launched an online petition urging business leaders to speak up and denounce the proposed bills. More than 7,300 people have signed it as of Thursday morning.

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