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Florida’s Anti-immigrant Law: SB 1718




May 10th 2023, governor DeSantis signed SB 1718. On July 1st 2023 the bill began to rip families apart, allowed police to racially profile people of color, and led to many tears, protests, and goodbyes. In October 2023 Texas followed suit and signed into effect SB 4 allowing those who transport undocumented people to be arrested for a 10-year minimum. The problem with these bills is that they lead to an increase in unlawful racial profiling of immigrants more specifically black and brown immigrants.


What is SB 1718?

The main points are summarized below:

1. Criminalizes the act of transporting an undocumented individual into Florida.

2. Requires hospitals to collect immigration status information from patients.

3. Requires Florida employers to document employment verification procedures for state law purposes, mandates E-Verify participation for most Florida employers, and creates separate penalties for violations.

4. Restricts access to Florida driver’s and professional licenses. From 19 states!

5. Forces the state to participate in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. AKA requires police to take DNA samples from undocumented individuals.

Information is from AILA.org

As a Florida resident and from a mixed status family, I have personally witnessed the horror that this bill has caused in both daily life for families and businesses. This bill affects around 1 in 4 construction workers and 42% of farmworkers who are undocumented. These numbers do not include their families who are also affected. This is devastating for Florida’s economy that relies on immigrant labor in order to keep the state running. Many families have fled the dehumanizing bill to other states, leaving their friends, families, and coworkers that they have been with for over 15+ years. During the summer there were many protests from truckers who refused to enter Florida, national boycotts of goods made in Florida such as orange juice, and local protests all over the state of Florida. Currently, these organizations; Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, Americans for Immigrant Justice, and American Immigration Council have jointly filed a lawsuit against the constitutionality of SB 1718 section 10 which focuses on the transportation of undocumented people and makes it a felony.


Your Teenage Sons and Daughters Can Face a 3rd Degree Felony

Section 10 of the bill includes,

“Amends the crime of human smuggling to provide that a person commits a third degree felony when he or she knowingly and willfully transports into this state an individual whom the person knows or reasonably should know has entered the United States in violation of the law and has not been inspected by the Federal Government since his or her unlawful entry from another country;”

Smuggling is even if you bring your undocumented friend from Emory to visit your house in Florida. If you bring one of your friends, you are now committing a 3rd degree felony. “But under Florida’s new law, which took effect July 1, the act of knowingly transporting undocumented individuals into the state — even by a member of their own family — has been elevated to felony human smuggling punishable by up to 15 years in prison.”

This bill even affects Taxi and Uber drivers. If you honestly didn’t know that they were undocumented, then you are still responsible and have to prove your innocence. If you are of a mixed status family, the children can now face felonies for bringing their family members to a grocery store or to the hospital.


Businesses Must Adapt

With the implementation of this law comes new regulations that businesses small and large now have to abide by. For example, if a company employs over 25+ people, the Florida government is forcing them to use E-verify systems to ensure that they are documented. “Creates penalties for employers who knowingly employ unauthorized aliens, effective July 1, 2024, including quarterly reporting and the suspension or revocation of employer licenses in certain circumstances.”

Many people who have been working for over 20+ years are now not able to continue working at the same business. This could be fixed with a reformed immigration system. We have seen time and time again that the United States does not welcome immigrants from Central America, from when many young men were deported out of California in the late 80s to a place they did not know anything about to Trump’s statements of how they are all criminals. Now businesses have to step up and stand their ground. We have seen many farmers protest the bill which ironically many voted for the republicans who were involved with the passage of this bill.


Are You From These 19 States?

The bill also “Prohibits a person from operating a motor vehicle if his or her driver’s license is issued by another state, which exclusively provides such a license to undocumented immigrants who are unable to prove lawful presence in the United States when the licenses are issued;”If you have any of these driver license’s; California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, it is not valid in Florida. Realistically, though, the only people the cops would stop is if you look “stereotypically latine”. They are also more likely to target farm and construction workers.


Next Steps

Continue protesting, write to your representatives, and vote these people out. More importantly, please do not vote for DeSantis in the 2024 Presidential election. Unfortunately, we have seen many other republican run states following Florida’s lead. Remember, this law is a threat to society and forces communities apart.

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