TALLAHASSEE — Spearheaded by Gov. Ron DeSantis, today, the Republican-majority Florida legislature passed an omnibus anti-immigrant bill that leaves all Floridians — including U.S. citizens — exposed to felony charges.
Senate Bill 1718 amends several statutes that will cause Florida to have the most draconian state immigration laws in the country. Once signed, this bill would:
- Prohibit local funding for community IDs
- Invalidate certain legally-issued out-of-state driver licenses
- Track, record, and report hospital patients’ immigration status
- Add the overly broad “human smuggling” statute to the list of crimes that can result in racketeering charges
- Mandate E-Verify for private businesses with 25 or more employees
- Repeal the ability of certain immigrant law students to be admitted to the Florida Bar
- Conflate the state’s anti-terrorism efforts with immigration
- Force the extraction of DNA samples from detained immigrants
- Remove protections for immigrant crime victims
- Provide $12 million in taxpayer dollars to the now infamous “unauthorized alien transport program”
This overly broad new law is intentionally hateful and meant to demonize immigrants and their families. Under the new law, anyone in Florida may be charged with a third-degree felony for transporting an immigrant into the state, even if the person has since gained lawful status. Mixed-status families driving home to Florida from another state could be charged with smuggling their own family members. If the person being transported is under 18 years of age, the driver could face a second-degree felony charge.
“SPLC Action Fund condemns the passage of this hurtful, hateful legislation,” said Jonathan Webber, Florida policy director for the SPLC Action Fund. “All Floridians — regardless of origin — want the same thing: health, prosperity and safety. This bill undermines our values by sowing suspicion between neighbors, attacking workers and businesses during a labor shortage, and forcing productive members of society back into the shadows. Undocumented people are more than a political punching bag — they are our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. We urge Gov. DeSantis to veto this legislation as soon as possible.”
“DeSantis’ political shenanigans will force every Floridian to pay a heavy price,” stated Paul R. Chavez, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC Action Fund. “The sole and exclusive power to regulate immigration policy is granted to the federal government, not the states, according to the United States Constitution (Article VI) and centuries of Congressional action and case law. A state effort to create a separate, competing state-run immigration enforcement system impedes the federal government’s ability to do its job and undermines our democracy. As designed, this bill will push hundreds of thousands of people into the shadows, including U.S. citizens, putting freedom and even our state’s economy at risk. It will create distrust of law enforcement in immigrant communities and make these communities less likely to report crimes, interact with police and seek medical treatment. This cruel and misguided effort will negatively impact public safety and public health and cause harm to all Floridians. We condemn this racist and inhumane bill and will continue to defend and advance the civil rights for all people.”