DeSantis signs strict anti-illegal immigration bill

Citizens gather to speak out about government policies Photo credit: Alexandra Fisher

The Florida government, notorious for having some of the nation’s most conservative legislation, has implemented a series of strict illegal immigration laws this summer.

Senate Bill (SB) 1718, signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, went into effect on July 1 of this year and has been dubbed one of “the most ambitious anti-illegal immigration laws in the country”.

The main goals of this legislation are “Fighting back against reckless federal government policies and ensuring the Florida taxpayers are not footing the bill for illegal immigration,” said DeSantis on May 10, the day he signed SB 1718.

For employers of 25 or more employees, the federal E-Verify system must be utilized in order to ensure that a potential employee is authorized to work in America. Employers that fail to use E-Verify are fined and may have their employer licenses suspended or taken away.

Under this bill, any Florida hospital that accepts Medicaid is required to ask patients about their legality of being in the United States and must report this data to the Agency for Healthcare Administration.

SB 1718 imposes a third-degree felony on illegal immigrants who use false identification cards (IDs) or other false documents in an attempt to gain employment and forbids municipalities from using funds to supply documents to illegal immigrants.

In addition, illegal immigrants will not be allowed to use their out-of-state IDs to drive a vehicle, and anyone with a license from one of the sixteen states that issue IDs to illegal immigrants will not be allowed to use it to drive a vehicle in Florida.

Several lawsuits have been brought against SB 1718, including a joint lawsuit of legal organizations American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Americans for Immigrant Justice, ACLU of Florida, the American Immigration Council and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The lawsuit is focused on Section 10 of SB 1718, which includes an increased penalty for smuggling illegal immigrants of up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

“This legislation is not the solution to any problem. It is an attempt to scapegoat and terrorize vulnerable families and workers already burdened by the difficulty of the federal immigration process, and to pick a fight with the federal government in order to serve the ambitions of a few politicians,” said Amine Kacou, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Florida.

Senior international studies and geography major Marcel van Hemert agrees with some parts of the bill.

“I do believe that illegal/undocumented immigration sadly leads to heavy human trafficking, and while I can see how this bill does target employers who contract illegal immigrants, I do believe it is a good measure,” van Hemert said.

However, van Hemert does believe that this bill may impact Florida’s ability to fill certain jobs.

“I do also recognize that illegal immigrants do tend to support the more ‘lower class’ jobs, for lack of a better term, typically manual labor type jobs, especially here in Miami.”