Florida Passes Comprehensive Enforcement Bill To Deter Illegal Immigration To The State
FAIR Take | May 2023
As tens of thousands of illegal aliens wait at the border for President Joe Biden to lift Title 42, the Florida Legislature has just passed a comprehensive immigration enforcement bill that was a top priority for Governor Ron DeSantis. The House gave its approval to Senate Bill (SB) 1718 on May 2 and the bill will now head to Gov. DeSantis’ desk.
Florida’s legislation is perhaps the strongest rebuttal so far against the reckless immigration policies of the Biden Administration being foisted on the states. When Governor DeSantis signs the bill, Florida will send a clear message that it does not support illegal immigration and that it will not bestow benefits on illegal aliens.
SB 1718 was sponsored by Senator Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill), who called it a necessary response to President Joe Biden’s immigration policies. Upon the bill’s introduction, Sen. Ingoglia said, “[i]t is unfortunate that state governments are having to step in to protect their residents from the incompetence and unlawful open border policies of the Biden Administration.” He continued, “SB 1718 is the most comprehensive and strongest, state-led anti-illegal immigrant piece of legislation ever put forth. This should be the model for all 50 states going forward to push the federal government into finally doing its job and fixing a crisis they have created.”
In addition to allocating $12 million to the state Division of Emergency Management for the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program, SB 1718 specifically:
- Enhances the crime of human smuggling by imposing stiffer criminal penalties on individuals who knowingly and willfully transport illegal aliens or Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) into Florida, particularly when smuggling five or more illegal aliens at once, or if the defendant has been previously convicted of human smuggling;
- Adds human smuggling to the list of crimes that can be prosecuted as a predicate offense under the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act;
- Requires private employers with 25 or more employees to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure a legal workforce;
- Creates penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens;
- Makes it a third-degree felony for an illegal alien to knowingly use false identification or fraudulently use another person’s identification to obtain employment;
- Requires employers to verify an employee’s employment eligibility within three days after the employee starts the job;
- Prohibits employers from continuing to employ an individual who is not authorized to work in Florida;
- Requires public agencies and their contractors and subcontractors to use E-Verify;
- Invalidates out-of-state driver’s licenses given to illegal aliens;
- Requires hospitals that accept Medicaid to collect patient information (excluding personally identifying information) pertaining to immigration status and to report that information quarterly, including reporting the costs of uncompensated care for illegal aliens;
- Ensures that law enforcement agencies cannot be prohibited or restricted from sending relevant information to federal immigration officers;
- Authorizes the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to coordinate and provide assistance to federal immigration officials as it relates to terrorism and immigration enforcement issues within or affecting Florida;
- Prohibits local governments from providing money to organizations that issue identification cards to illegal aliens;
- Repeals the statute that allows an illegal alien to be a member of the Florida Bar; and
- Requires an individual who is in the custody of law enforcement and who is subject to an immigration detainer to submit a DNA sample.
During debate, open-borders advocates were hyperbolic in their description of the bill. “This bill is politically driven, and it’s an anti-immigrant bill that will hurt and even kill undocumented immigrants,” claimed Representative Susan Valdes (D-Tampa).
Angel Mom and Representative Kiyan Michael (R-Jacksonville) countered their argument saying, “[t]he price of illegal immigration cost us everything.” “There is not an ounce of malice in my heart … I just want it to stop. It has to stop and it is insane if we are waiting on Washington, D.C. to do something.” Rep. Michael’s 21-year-old son Brandon was killed in a car accident by an illegal alien.
While SB 1718 did not accomplish all of Gov. DeSantis’s priorities like repealing in-state tuition for illegal aliens and mandating E-Verify for all private businesses regardless of their number of employees, it addressed the majority of them. The governor has indicated that he will sign SB 1718 into law saying, “[w]e won’t turn a blind eye to the dangers of Biden’s Border Crisis. We will continue to take steps to protect Floridians from reckless federal open-border policies.”