The SB 1718the harsh anti-immigrant law enacted by the governor of Florida Ron DeSantis and which will enter into force on July 1 in that state, not only penalizes undocumented immigrantsbut to any resident of the state that violates the restrictions it imposes, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) noted in a recent article.
The strict state legislation that is SB 1718, among other provisions, limits social services for undocumented immigrants, assigns millions of additional tax dollars to expand DeSantis’ immigrant resettlement program, invalidates driver’s licenses issued by other states to undocumented people and requires hospitals that receive Medicaid dollars to request a patient’s immigration status, in addition to imposing the E-Verify system to verify the immigration status of any worker.
But the most concerning measures, both for businesses and for undocumented immigrants, are penalties for those who violate the new mandates of SB 1718.
To crack down on businesses that hire undocumented workers, SB 1718 will require private employers with 25 or more employees hiring new employees to use E-Verify, the federal online database employers use to confirm if someone is eligible to work in the US
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will be responsible for enforcing the E-Verify and DeSantis requirement has implemented tough new penalties for employers who violate it.
A chart on the governor’s website indicates that employers who do not use E-Verify will be fined $1,000 per day. For workers, it will be a felony to use a false ID to get a job.
Other sanctions are: require the reimbursement of any economic development incentive; placing an employer on probation for a period of one year with quarterly reports required to demonstrate compliance; or if a violation occurs within 24 months of a prior violation, revocation or suspension of applicable state licenses.
Under the new law, a person who transports to Florida someone they know (or should have known) to be an undocumented immigrant could be charged with felony human trafficking.
A person who found to be transporting fewer than five immigrants on their first offense could be charged with a third degree felony. This means they can be sentenced to up to five years in prison per person or pay a $5,000 fine for each undocumented person they transport, with penalties that increase dramatically for a subsequent offense or for transporting more people or children.
But, a much more serious implication is that SB 1718 expands the scope of Florida’s RICO statute (Law on Corrupt Organizations and Influenced by Mafiosi) to include “trafficking in persons” as “an organized crime activity” which could become the basis for an organized crime offense (requires a pattern of organized crime activity) that is a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fineaccording to AILA.
The new law SB 1718 declares that non-Florida driver’s licenses are “invalid” if they are issued “exclusively to undocumented immigrants who cannot demonstrate lawful presence in the United States when the licenses are issued.”
The types of licenses that are not valid under the law also include those that are similar to legal resident and citizen driver’s licenseslike the state ID cards if “they have marks that establish that the licensee did not exercise the option to provide proof of legal presence”, which implies that they would only be legal with the security standards such as identification cards established by the REAL ID Act.
If the police stop someone with one of those licenses, the law directs officers to issue a citation for driving without a license.
That is a second degree misdemeanor in Florida, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500 or up to 60 days in jail.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing immigrants to drive legally, even if they are not authorized to be in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Although the full impact that SB 1718 will have on Florida residents cannot yet be quantified since it has not yet gone into effect, experts estimate that its impact on the state’s economy is likely to be devastating.
A 2019 report from the Immigration Policy Institute estimated that there are more than 700,000 undocumented people in Florida’s workforce and that nearly one in four workers in the construction industry are undocumented.
Similarly, a 2021 report from the New American Economy Research Fund indicated that approximately 42% of Florida farmworkers are undocumented.
– Ron DeSantis’ SB 1718 law criminalizes immigrants in Florida, warns ACLU
– Why driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants will no longer be accepted in Florida
– What is the E-Verify system that will be mandatory to employ immigrants in Florida
Source: La Opinion