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A federal judge struck down parts of a Florida immigration enforcement law that was a priority for the state’s Republican governor, saying in his ruling that the measure was racially motivated.

U.S. Judge Beth Bloom on Tuesday rejected sections of the law that prohibit local government sanctuary policies and require local law enforcement to do their best to work with federal law enforcement authorities in immigration matters.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office, who enacted the bill with great fanfare in 2019 as a priority for his administration, said on Wednesday it would appeal.

Bloom has repeatedly said the law is racially motivated and its supporters have shown no evidence as to why it is needed to reduce crime. She said the sponsor of the bill – SB 168 – was being guided by anti-immigrant hate groups such as Floridians for Immigration Enforcement.

“Allowing anti-immigrant hate groups that openly promote xenophobic, nationalist and racist ideologies to be intimately involved in the legislative process of a bill is a significant departure from procedural standards,” Bloom wrote. “This implication strongly suggests that the legislature enacted SB 168 to promote and ratify the racist views of these advocacy groups. “

Bloom cited numerous communications between Floridians for Immigration Enforcement and the staff of State Senator Joe Gruters. Gruters sponsored the bill and is also chairman of the state’s Republican Party.

“On several occasions during the 2019 legislative session, (Floridians for Immigration Enforcement’s) racial animosity and discriminatory intent were pointed out to Senator Gruters and his staff, but were ignored,” Bloom wrote.

Gruters did not immediately respond to a message left on his cell phone.

In 2019, DeSantis signed the bill in a campaign-style appearance in the conservative Panhandle region, unlike his other formal, more moderate bill-signing events. A bustling crowd dotted with “Make America Great Again” red hats applauded wildly in favor of the bill. They also applauded just as loudly the mentions of then-President Donald Trump.

The governor’s office defended the law on Wednesday.

“Again, a federal trial judge partially directs clearly constitutional state law,” DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said. “We do not agree with the judge’s ruling and hope to win on the appeal.”

Democrats and immigrant advocates have welcomed the decision.

“Floridians deserve a legislature that puts people first over politics, not a legislature that repeatedly wastes taxpayer dollars defending extreme legislation designed to bolster the governor’s political ambitions. Florida has been and always will be a state of immigrants, ”Democratic state representative Carlos Guillermo Smith said in a statement.

Many bills that DeSantis signed into law have been challenged in the courts, where he is often lost in lower courts. The state has appealed against those rulings, including a “riot” law inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests across the country, a ban on vaccine passports, and penalties for large social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook that block people based on political posts. It is also being contested by order of the state to ban mask warrants in schools.

Other laws challenged in court include new electoral rules that make postal voting more difficult, a ban on the participation of transgender women and girls in school sports, and limits on contributions to groups seeking to change the constitution of the state.

The Independent Gt

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