ACLU of Florida, PRLDEF and Local Advocates Vow to Sue Over Palm Bay Anti-Immigrant Ordinance

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
August 15, 2006 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Florida
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

PALM BAY, FL – The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges today sent a letter to the City of Palm Bay expressing opposition to the anti-immigrant ordinances which are under consideration by the Palm Bay City Council. Should the Council vote to pass the ordinances, the organizations have vowed to challenge the laws in court on behalf of Palm Bay constituents.

“The laws, which are based on nothing more than prejudice and hostility to immigrants, do nothing to protect the community and only lead to discrimination against Latinos and other ethnic groups,” said Kevin Aplin of the ACLU of Florida’s Brevard Chapter. “Employers who fear retribution for hiring undocumented workers – even if they are unaware of their citizenship status – may begin to discriminate to avoid potential legal complications. The city is creating a situation that hurts everyone and helps no one.”

The most overreaching parts of the ordinances (No.’s 2006-80 and 2006-81) place civil penalties on employers who are in violation of federal law. Implementing this type of law on a local level intrudes on the power of the federal government to regulate immigration and enforce immigration laws, the groups said Because the local ordinances attempt to enforce laws that Congress has reserved for the federal enforcement, the ACLU of Florida believes that Palm Bay’s ordinances would be struck down in court.

“It is neither the place of local government, nor in the overall interest of our country for local communities to assume responsibilities of the federal government,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “Preventing a chaotic patchwork legal system in which penalties imposed on employers vary from community to community is precisely why only the federal government should have the power to enforce immigration laws.”

The ACLU and coalition partners said they hope the Council will recognize that these ordinances are outside of their authority and vote accordingly on August 17 when the measures are considered for a final time. The groups said they are prepared to challenge such a law in court, noting that the City of Palm Bay and its taxpayers could be responsible for monetary and legal costs associated with the litigation.

Prior to the August 17 city council meeting, opponents of the ordinances will gather for a vigil and march on City Hall at 6 p.m. at 300 Malabar Road in Palm Bay. Residents of Palm Bay are encouraged to reach out to their city council members and express their disapproval of the ordinances.

The letter of opposition is online at: www.aclufl.org/pdfs/PalmBayLetter.pdf

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