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Florida’s Newest Immigration Law and Its Impact on Undocumented Immigrants

Jun 12, 2023

Florida’s newest immigration law, Senate Bill 1718, has been signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. The bill aims to crack down on undocumented immigrants in the state by imposing strict penalties and restrictions.

Coming into effect on July 1st, this new regulation requires businesses with 25 or more employees to use the federal E-Verify system to check the legal status of all employees. It affects undocumented immigrants in Florida, making it more difficult for them to find work and leading to potential increased deportations.

The Governor’s stand view

Signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, this bill aims to obstruct the flow of illegal immigration.

Under the new law, employers are required to use E-Verify to determine the eligibility of new hires. The system checks an individual’s employment eligibility by comparing their information with data from the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.
It also imposes new restrictions on undocumented immigrants and those who assist them. For example, it is now a felony offense to transport or harbor undocumented immigrants, and penalties for identity theft have increased.

The new law is already leading to worker shortages in industries that rely heavily on immigrant labor, such as agriculture and hospitality. This is because many undocumented immigrants are leaving Florida or are afraid to work due to the increased risk of deportation.

Even though many immigrants fear for their future, supporters of the law argue that it will help to reduce illegal immigration and protect American workers.

Repercussions on Undocumented Immigrants

Undocumented immigrants living and working in Florida for years now face the possibility of losing their jobs and being deported to their home countries. This could have devastating consequences for their families, who may have established roots and life in the United States. Others are staying put, hoping to find a way to navigate the new legal landscape and continue to provide for their families.

The penalties for violating the new law are severe, with fines of up to $10,000 per unauthorized worker for companies that fail to comply with the verification requirement. Leading businesses to choose to terminate the employment of undocumented workers rather than risk the financial consequences of non-compliance.

Immigrants granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status are also at risk of deportation under the new law. DACA recipients, who were brought to the United States as children and have been living there for years, may now face the possibility of being forced to leave their homes and families.

On the other hand, undocumented workers comprise a significant portion of Florida’s workforce, particularly agriculture. With the new law, businesses struggle to find legally authorized workers in the United States.

Undocumented immigrants living in Florida face challenges due to the lack of legal status. The new bill will only exacerbate these challenges by making it more difficult for them to access employment, education, and healthcare. It will also make them more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by unscrupulous employers and landlords.

Restrictions on Access to Medical Care

The new immigration law in Florida requires that hospitals that accept Medicaid ask patients about their citizenship status and whether they are in the country legally. The form that patients are asked to fill out is required to inform them that their answers will not affect their care or result in a report to immigration authorities. However, undocumented immigrants may hesitate to seek medical care due to fear of being reported to authorities.

Without access to medical care, undocumented immigrants may be unable to receive treatment for serious illnesses or injuries, leading to long-term health problems and potentially even death.

While the law includes provisions to reduce illegal immigration, it may also lead to denying basic rights and services to vulnerable populations.

Law Enforcement and Criminal Penalties

The law imposes tough penalties and restrictions to obstruct the flow of illegal immigration. It also expands the state’s role in enforcing federal immigration laws.

Under the new law, law enforcement officers must cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and honor ICE detainer requests. If an undocumented immigrant gets arrested for a criminal offense, they can be held in jail for up to 48 hours after their release date if ICE requests it.

Criminal offenses related to immigration are also subject to harsher penalties under the new law. For example, transporting, harboring, or concealing an undocumented immigrant is now a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants may also face criminal charges and penalties.
The law has raised concerns about racial profiling and discrimination against immigrants. Critics argue that the law will lead to increased profiling of individuals based on race or ethnicity and could result in the detention and deportation of individuals who have not committed any crimes.

Additionally, the law’s Unauthorized Alien Transport Program requires county detention facilities to participate in a program that allows them to transport undocumented immigrants to ICE custody. This has led to concerns about the safety and well-being of undocumented immigrants who may be subject to detention and deportation.

Critics argue that the law is inhumane, putting undocumented immigrants in challenging situations. They say the law will force undocumented workers underground, making them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. This could lead to a rise in human trafficking and other illegal activities.

Another controversial aspect of the law is its impact on families. The law could separate families, as undocumented workers may be forced to leave their jobs and homes. This could have a devastating effect on children and other family members who rely on them for support.
In addition, the law has been criticized for its potential to create a climate of fear and hostility toward immigrants. This could lead to increased discrimination and harassment of immigrants and a breakdown in trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities.

This situation has stirred up strong emotions and opinions on both sides of the debate. While some see it as a necessary step to protect American jobs and national security, others view it as an attack on basic human rights and dignity.

Stay informed and connected. At our law office, as we navigate the impact of Florida’s newest immigration law, it is crucial to stay updated on the evolving landscape and its effects on undocumented immigrants. Our mission is to advocate for fairness, justice, and compassion within our communities.
If you or a relative require legal support with the upcoming bill, call us at (704) 325.8057 to speak with one of our experienced immigration attorneys and learn about your options for protecting your rights and securing your future.
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