What is the new Florida immigrant law and how is it impacting immigrants?



Flag of Florida.

With many laws that are being passed, we often don’t bat an eye for a moment to see how these laws take effect. One of these is Florida’s new law that is targeted toward immigrants living in Florida. 

In May 2023, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, signed a bill that’s propelling immigrants out of his state. As to why the governor of Florida signed the bill, there have been some felonies that were mostly associated with undocumented immigrants. DeSantis said he wanted justice for the felonies that the illegal immigrants committed, so the rights of unrelated undocumented immigrants are being restricted. For most documented immigrants, they aren’t as affected by this bill as undocumented immigrants.

WLRN, a public radio and television news, mentions a list of crimes that the restrictions are aimed to be able to break through and put a stop to it. “DeSantis said Florida’s new law will crack down on the smuggling of immigrants, stop municipalities from issuing ID cards to people here illegally, and ensure that employers are hiring American citizens or people in the country legally,” it mentioned.

As said before, the restriction limited immigrants’ pursuit to find work, education, supportive healthcare, a driver’s license, and the right to live in the state. This is pushing immigrants who were once living in Florida to evacuate because of all the pressure of the curtailment rules set against them.

Roofers Coffee Shop indicated some rules that were put in the law for immigrants to follow include:

  • Employment rules where companies with 25 or more employees should use a E-Verify employment screening for new hires (to confirm that you are authorized to work in the U.S) and those who don’t do it will be fined $1,000 per day.
  • Transportation limits which means stronger penalties for sneaking people into Florida.
  • Healthcare requirements where hospitals have to keep track and report on the amount of money spent to treat illegal immigrants in their emergency rooms.
  • Driver’s licenses and other IDs where non-citizens who have driver’s licenses given to them in other states will be prohibited from using it in Florida and local governments are to be stopped from funding identification card for illegal immigrants to be made.
  • Education restrictions where it canceled a 2014 law that allowed undocumented immigrants to practice law in Florida
  • and a law that provided a program called Unauthorized Alien Transport Program to be funded up for up to $12 million, which has already been used to transport immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

With how many restrictions the new Florida immigrant law has, it’s concerning how much it can impact the immigration community and the Latino community. Most workers that work in the fields are immigrants, and with the restriction being passed in Florida it’ll negatively impact them as well.

According to Axios, an American news site, they mention how Florida is home to about 772,000 undocumented immigrants. With most of them absent, Florida will be kind of vacant, which isn’t anything bad, they are just going to have a lower population. However, with how many undocumented immigrants live in Florida, where are they going to go after leaving Florida? They could apply for asylum, but probably not all 772,000 immigrants could temporarily live there.

Picture this: imagine having to migrate to another area because the current place you live in doesn’t guarantee much success for you and your future. What would your main focus be when looking for a place to settle?

For most immigrants, their goal is to look for a well-paying job, opportunities to get an education, and to live in a safe environment. Imagine that Florida is the closest state near you. Luckily, Florida meets all of these criteria so you’ll most likely migrate there.

However, with the new Florida law passing, it would be difficult to go to Florida, so you have no choice but to go somewhere else to find success for your future. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to migrate somewhere else, or even live in Florida, and moving requires money, so even people already in Florida but aren’t allowed to work would struggle because of the new Florida law.

“I kind of feel bad cause, you know, they are kicking out immigrants that work so hard to build, like, the stuff they did there. You know, like, immigrants, like, I guess they build buildings, they work hard, and they want money for their family to, like, feed their family and stuff,” said Milo Xochitl Hernandez, an eighth grade student at AJMS.

What’s more, the prevention of immigrants entering Florida and staying in Florida leads to a job catastrophe. With so many immigrants leaving Florida, jobs are now vacated.  So this could lead to people in Florida having a chance to find new job opportunities, but many people don’t want those jobs or aren’t qualified to do them.  

“I have seen TikTok videos about the new construction workers that are white people and they are doing it really bad,”  Jasmine Cirilo, an eighth grade student at AJMS, thought of when referring to TikTok videos that show how a few, but not all, new construction workers work when they are at the construction sites.

“Because Florida is like a place that gets natural disasters often and like construction workers-white construction workers-won’t be able to fix the houses and stuff, it’ll make them more vulnerable to disasters that are going to happen,” said Jasmine as she thought about the situation.

Many people reacted differently to recently hearing about the news. Some support it or some don’t, or they have mixed feelings. 

One such example is Ms. Alamilla who is a Latino science teacher that teaches at AJMS.

“And then also when all the stuff happened with the abortion laws recently too, when they also made that illegal, that was also like, ‘Oh boy!’ So it’s not surprising that they are doing something as lucrative as this sweeping immigration, so I do not support that at all,” she said. “This country is built by immigrants, supported by immigrants, and people just want to make a living wage and, you know, live somewhere where they can raise a family and, you know, feel safe.”

Another example is someone by the name of Nikki Jones. She shares her opinion with WLRN about the new immigrant restrictions in Florida.

“‘Currently he is at an ICE detention facility after serving only three years,” Jones said. “Now every day I have to wake up, and are we and my girls going to have my home? I am in complete support of this immigration bill because it is a start to protect our families and children,’” Jones said on the WLRN website, referring to the time her husband died because of a hit-and-run incident from an immigrant.

Something that people should know is that the same person who passed the restrictions in Florida is the same person who is also  a candidate for the U.S. presidency in 2024.

“DeSantis, who’s expected to launch a 2024 presidential bid Wednesday, made curbing illegal immigration a centerpiece of his legislative priorities and proposed many of the law’s provisions,” said Axios.