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What happens when U.S. immigration law and state law conflict?

Florida is home to many immigrants who came to the United States in search of better lives for themselves and their families. Many are able to fulfill their dreams of obtaining gainful employment, buying homes and building successful lifestyles here. Others, however, wind up facing serious challenges regarding U.S. immigration law, in particular those whose statuses are not secure.

One of the main issues that seems to worry many immigrations is threat of detention and possible removal. In fact, there's a contentious situation brewing in another state where a lawsuit has actually been filed against a regional jail, claiming jail officials are in violation of a 1987 state law that protects immigrants from being detained in state regional facilities based solely on their undocumented statuses. A spokesperson for the jail staunchly denied that the facility has done anything wrong.

In fact, he stated that the jail is merely complying with U.S. immigration law and honoring a contract it has with the federal government. The law cited in the claim against the jail says no regional facility may be used to restrain a person's liberty to assist the federal government in asserting legal authority over that person. It's understandable that the typical immigrant would have no clue what state or federal laws are governing such matters and may feel frightened and unsure as to where to turn for help if they are placed behind bars in a regional jail.

It's no secret that U.S. immigration law is complex and often changes. The situation in Oregon has now been left for the courts to decide. In Florida, any immigrant worried about a particular detention situation or other immigration matter may reach out for support by speaking with an immigration and naturalization law attorney.

Source:, "Jail sued over holding immigration detainees", Neita Cecil, July 25, 2017

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