On Tuesday, May 2nd, Florida legislators voted to approve a new immigration bill called SB 1718. The new bill restricts local governments from providing undocumented immigrants with identification, invalidates non-citizens’ driver’s licenses from other states, and increases employment requirements within Florida.
Under the new legislation, businesses are subject to random audits of employees in an effort to stop the hiring of undocumented workers as well as the trafficking of undocumented immigrants into Florida. The hiring requirement established by the 2020 Legislature has now been expanded, requiring companies with over 25 employees to use Florida’s E-Verify system when hiring more employees. The legislation impacts public employers and contractors but does not impact Florida’s agricultural industry. In the event that companies do not verify the status of their employees through the E-Verify system, they can face fees and have licenses suspended, ceasing operations.
In regards to health care, under the new legislation, hospitals will now be required to track how much of the state and federal reimbursements issued by Medicaid are spent on care for undocumented immigrants.
While the legislation does restrict the movements of undocumented immigrants into Florida, the bill also authorizes funding to the Division of Emergency Management’s Unauthorized Alien Transport Program. The $12 million in funds will be spent on situations similar to 2022’s transport of approximately 50 asylum-seekers that entered Texas across the U.S.-Mexico border to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Undocumented immigrants in Florida are mostly Venezuelan, Cuban, and Haitian migrants.
At the time of writing, Governor Ron DeSantis has yet to sign the bill into law.