FIU researcher lawsuits demonstrate evils of SB 846

It's not that these students were even denied opportunities – they were stripped of the ones they had already earned. | Heidi Cuevas, PantherNOW

PantherNOW Editorial Board

After FIU’s hiring pause on university workers from “countries of concern,” it’s not surprising that the university community has quickly responded.

Two students were dismissed from FIU as graduate research assistants because of the law, SB 846. They filed suit against Florida last month, alleging that it violates federal laws on immigration and employment. 

These students are immigrants who believed in all of the empty promises about Florida being a great place for higher education. Now, they’re abandoned by their university because of the fear that has been generated. 

A press release from the American Civil Liberties Union argues that SB 846 “will codify discrimination against people of Asian descent in violation of the Constitution.”

“It will also cast an undue burden of suspicion on anyone seeking to study whose name sounds remotely Asian, Russian, Iranian, Cuban, Venezuelan, or Syrian.”

For these two FIU students, the law has a devastating effect. For them, their research positions aren’t just their livelihood-their entire academic careers hinge on this work.

It’s not that these students were even denied opportunities- they were stripped of the ones they had already earned.  

All the time and resources they’ve invested in coming to the U.S. to work hard- gone. Without a second thought from our legislators and the governor.

It’s not just their academic careers and professional opportunities- the lawsuit points out that they also lose their “salaries and accompanying full tuition waivers.”

As we wrote before, this law is simply poor quality. 

If state security is of interest then there are other ways to go about ensuring that security without jeopardizing other state interests and the lives of individuals who have done nothing more than be immigrants.

Last year, Governor Ron DeSantis had lots to say about how great higher education is in Florida. 

“Florida has ranked number one in higher education for seven years in a row,” DeSantis said (in response to prohibiting DEI, we might note). 

“Florida is taking a stand for empowering students, parents, and educators to focus on creating opportunities for our younger generations.”

Really? Kicking out some of the best minds in the state indiscriminately based largely on their country of origin hardly seems like this state investing in education and “opportunities for our younger generations.” 

Again, we acknowledge that the law doesn’t automatically require immediate dismissal of these foreign students and faculty, but because it’s so poorly written and vague, the result is essentially the same- tossing the baby out with the bathwater. 

Like we said before, the law has a chilling effect on universities, making them nervous to hire applicants from outside the U.S. 

We’re seeing that right here in Miami, at FIU, a university that has “international” right in the name

We already pointed out the cracks and weaknesses in SB 846 in our last editorial on the subject– how it’s redundant and serves no genuine, useful purpose. 

Our point here is that because of the piss-poor work of our representatives, we are seeing the real-life impact on students like us who have done nothing wrong.

Our legislators and governor ought to be ashamed of themselves. If you thought this law made you look tough, it just makes you look stupid.

If you think it achieved a state security goal, then we question your understanding of state security. 

Their lives are upside down while you all sit comfortably, across the state and up in your offices in Tallahassee. 

We hope these students can make their case about how this law is patently unconstitutional and how because it’s poorly written, it has devastating implications for international students across this state and especially at FIU. 

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