Activists Go After Human Smuggling Law

Press Releases

October 9, 2023

IRLI shows court Florida law not “preempted”

WASHINGTON—The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has filed a brief in a Florida federal district court supporting a new Florida law aimed at curbing human smuggling. The brief is in opposition to a lawsuit by anti-borders activists trying to strike the law down.

The activists claim the law, which makes it a crime to transport a person in Florida if that person has entered the United States without inspection by border officials, is “field preempted” by federal immigration laws about the admission of aliens. IRLI shows in its brief, however, that the Florida law is not an immigration law, but a law about human smuggling in general, because even U.S. citizens returning from abroad are supposed to be inspected by customs officials.

IRLI also shows that this law advances Congress’s purposes in federal immigration law, and so is the reverse of an obstacle to those purposes, as would be necessary for another kind of preemption called “obstacle preemption.”

“That someone would be against laws against human smuggling, given the prevalence of that horrific practice in today’s world, boggles the mind,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “But that is what we are up against. We hope the court clearly sees that the valid principles of federal supremacy and preemption cannot be used to throttle this state measure aimed at making Florida and our country—and the people in them—more secure, and upholds the law.”

The case is The Farmworker Association of Florida Inc. v. DeSantis, No. 1:23-cv-22655 (S.D. Fla.).

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