The ACLU has issued a travel alert against the State of Florida due to a new immigration bill currently going through the Florida Legislature called SB 168 and HB 527. People of color and immigrants are warned that Florida could begin racial profiling, false detainment of U.S. citizens, and even false deportation if the law passes.
“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.”
“As recent cases illustrate, U.S. citizens have been kept in jail away from their jobs and families, and they have faced the terror of being told they would soon be deported from their only home. Many have spent time in immigration jail, and some have even been deported. Local police and sheriffs, in turn, have faced immense litigation costs and damages liability to the U.S. citizens they have held for ICE.”
Lawsuits have filed against cities and counties, with Florida taxpayers ultimately footing the bill for false detainers.
Thomas Kennedy, Florida Immigrant Coalition Director, shares, “Taking precious local resources away from law enforcement to further target Floridian families for deportation comes at an extremely high financial and moral cost. The insidious attacks against immigrants on the national level are being amplified by Florida lawmakers pushing for anti-immigrant policies”.
He continues, “Florida lawmakers need to realize that there will be consequences for attacking our families. 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.”
Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the sunshine state and any kind of travel impact could be detrimental to the state. 118.8 million visitors (not residents) visited Florida in 2017 according to Visit Florida with 14.4 million of those visitors being international visitors. Visitor spending directly and indirectly supports 1.4 million jobs in Florida.
Tourism growth is currently booming in the state and any slowdown would be a tragic turn of events.
Immigrant and civil rights groups releasing the alert are ACLU of Florida, Alianza Americas, Engage Miami, Faith in Florida, Family Action Network Movement, FL Student Power, Farmworkers Association of Florida, FLIC Votes, Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees, Mi Familia Vota, Miami Workers Center, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, QLATINX, United We Dream, and WeCount!. National partners include: ACLU, Advancement Project, America’s Voice, Community Justice Project, National Latina Institute, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, and UndocuBlack Network.