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    ...HEAT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM CDT TUESDAY...
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US judge temporarily blocks part of Florida law targeting migrant transport

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By Ted Hesson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. judge temporarily blocked part of a Florida law on Wednesday that imposes criminal penalties for willfully transporting people who lack legal immigration status into the state.

The law, which took effect in 2023, amended the crime of human smuggling to classify such cases as felonies.

U.S. District Judge Roy Altman cited people who testified that they were “now too afraid to travel in and out of Florida with their undocumented friends or family members – for fear of being arrested or prosecuted or of having their family members deported.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, made immigration a central theme of his failed presidential campaign and has continued to prioritize the issue, a top concern for voters in the run-up to the Nov. 5 U.S. elections.

The Florida law also allocated funds to move migrants without lawful status out of the state, restricted access to ID cards, and required more businesses to use an electronic system to validate a person’s eligibility to work.

The litigation, brought by the Farmworker Association of Florida, only challenged the part of the law dealing with transport of migrants.

The Florida governor’s office and the farmworker group did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Mica Rosenberg, Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang)

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