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SPLC Action Fund Condemns Florida’s Anti-Immigrant Omnibus Bill

TALLAHASSEE – Today, at the behest of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Sen. Blaise Ingoglia and Rep. Kiyan Michael introduced Senate Bill 1718 and House Bill 1617, respectively, to amend several Florida statutes, including the state’s human smuggling statute. This expansive pair of omnibus bills will have a significant impact on immigrants and how Floridians and vacationers access transportation, shelter and housing.

The bills seek to severely restrict community IDs, invalidate certain out-of-state driver’s licenses and track hospital patient information for the purpose of annual reports to the governor. It also mandates an expanded E-Verify process, repeals the ability of certain undocumented law students to be admitted to the Florida Bar, removes protections for crime victims and seeks to turn Florida into a “show me your papers” state by amending Florida’s human smuggling statute. The invasiveness of this bill extends to Floridians and immigrants alike.

If SB 1718 and HB 1617 become law, a person — including American citizens — could be charged with a third-degree felony for transporting (within or into Florida), immigrants who entered the U.S. unlawfully. Moreover, that person could face felony charges, punishable by up to five years in prison, for concealing, harboring or shielding that same immigrant, or immigrants, from detection. Providing any kind of temporary or permanent shelter would also now be a felony. According to the U.S. Constitution, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and centuries of case law, only the federal government is qualified to determine a person's immigration status.

Under the proposed bills, not only would any means of transportation and any place be covered by the amended statute, but it also places immigrants who have become Lawful Permanent Residents and U.S. citizens in the crosshairs. Similar legislation enacted in Georgia and Alabama over 10 years ago was found unconstitutional by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The following statement is from A.J. Hernández Anderson, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC Action Fund:

“The breadth of this section of the bills is particularly astonishing, as are its secretive origins. And it is an affront to the respect for the Rule of Law in our democracy. These proposed bills would further harm Floridians by creating a surveillance state, eroding public safety, increasing racial profiling and shattering public trust in our communities. Our family, friends and neighbors will run the risk of being charged with a felony for going about their daily lives, such as transporting a neighborhood child to soccer practice or an attorney giving their client a ride to immigration court. If passed, this law would deprive Floridians of the freedom to move freely around the state.

These proposed bills illustrate the oppressive limitations that the ineffective Florida governor and Florida Legislature are burdening families and workers with throughout the state. It encourages communities to spy and report on each other, sowing fear and distrust among neighbors, friends and family, in true dictatorship fashion. The Florida legislature must stand up to the harm the governor is inflicting on Floridians in his relentless political ambitions by stopping this dangerous legislation from being passed.”