Florida Governor Signs Sweeping Immigration Bill with Controversial Measures

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed into law a sweeping immigration bill that is considered to be the toughest crackdown on undocumented immigration in the United States.[0] The bill includes various measures that aim to obstruct the flow of illegal immigration to the state and enact strict punitive policies for undocumented workers.[1] One of the most controversial provisions of the bill is the authorization of $12 million in funding for the “Unauthorized Alien Transport Program,” a program that transports immigrants to sanctuary cities in other states.[2] The bill also requires all businesses with 25 or more employees to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of new workers.[3]

The legislation mandates hospitals to ask patients about their legal status and report the costs of care.[4] It also prohibits medical boards from taking disciplinary action against health care practitioners’ licenses or denying a license to an individual if they have publicly spoken or written about a health care service or policy.[5] The new law will go into effect on July 1, 2023.[6]

The bill has been widely criticized by immigrant advocates and human rights groups, with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador calling it “immoral” and “politicking.” Critics argue that the legislation will contribute to confusion and law enforcement profiling, especially in a diverse, visitor-filled state like Florida. The bill also bans local governments from contributing money to organizations that create identification cards for undocumented immigrants and invalidates out-of-state driver’s licenses given to undocumented immigrants.[3]

The bill is expected to have a significant impact on Florida, where more than one in five residents is an immigrant, according to the American Immigration Council and the Migration Policy Institute.[7] According to the institute, the bill is considered one of the most extensive and detrimental anti-immigrant measures in the nation, as it affects over 770,000 immigrants in the state who are believed to be undocumented.[7]

In addition to the immigration bill, DeSantis also signed a controversial law that exempts records related to his travel from the state’s public disclosure law.[8] The law will hide records about his past and future travel, as well as powerful people he meets with, at a time when he is widely expected to be on the cusp of announcing his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.[9]

While the signing of the immigration bill marks a legislative victory and priority for DeSantis, it did not include one of the governor’s top asks: repealing a provision allowing children of undocumented immigrants to get in-state college tuition rates when they’ve attended a Florida high school for three consecutive years.[10] Despite this, almost every other requirement, penalty, or limit on undocumented immigrants that DeSantis wanted is included in the legislation.[11]

0. “Gov. DeSantis signs the most restrictive bill on illegal immigration in the country” Florida Phoenix, 10 May. 2023, https://floridaphoenix.com/2023/05/10/gov-desantis-signs-the-most-restrictive-bill-on-illegal-immigration-in-the-country

1. “Florida immigration Senate bill 1718 passes House. What’s in it?” Pensacola News Journal, 2 May. 2023, https://www.pnj.com/story/news/politics/2023/05/02/florida-immigration-senate-bill-1718-passes-house-explainer-what-you-need-to-know/70175457007/

2. “Gov. DeSantis signs controversial bill that targets illegal immigration” CBS News, 11 May. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/miami/news/gov-desantis-signs-controversial-bill-that-targets-illegal-immigration

3. “Gov. DeSantis signs bill to crackdown on illegal immigration in Florida” WFTV Orlando, 11 May. 2023, https://www.wftv.com/news/local/gov-desantis-signs-bill-crackdown-illegal-immigration-florida/UVSYJOVGWRBPJC3DRHGLMH7XI4

4. “Florida Passes Comprehensive Enforcement Bill To Deter Illegal Immigration To The State” Federation for American Immigration Reform, 8 May. 2023, https://www.fairus.org/legislation/state-immigration-legislation-policies/border-security/florida-passes-comprehensive

5. “Governor Ron DeSantis Signs the Strongest Legislation in the Nation for Medical Freedom” Governor Ron DeSantis, 11 May. 2023, https://flgov.com/2023/05/11/governor-ron-desantis-signs-the-strongest-legislation-in-the-nation-for-medical-freedom/

6. “Florida SB 1580 now law. What conscience-based health care law does:” Pensacola News Journal, 11 May. 2023, https://www.pnj.com/story/news/politics/2023/05/11/florida-sb-1580-now-law-what-conscience-based-health-care-law-does/70207064007/

7. “Florida’s Anti-Immigrant Bill Will Open the “Floodgates for Racial Profiling”” Truthout, 8 May. 2023, https://truthout.org/articles/floridas-anti-immigrant-bill-will-open-the-floodgates-for-racial-profiling/

8. “DeSantis signs bill blocking state travel records from public disclosure” CNN, 12 May. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/11/politics/ron-desantis-state-travel-records-covid-mandate/index.html

9. “DeSantis travel records will be hidden under new law” Business Insider, 11 May. 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/desantis-travel-records-will-be-hidden-under-new-law-2023-5

10. “DeSantis signs new Florida illegal immigration restrictions into law” Business Insider, 10 May. 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/desantis-signs-new-florida-illegal-immigration-restrictions-into-law-2023-5

11. “Florida illegal immigration crackdown: Bill on the way to DeSantis” Tallahassee Democrat, 2 May. 2023, https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/politics/2023/05/02/florida-illegal-immigration-crackdown-bill-on-the-way-to-desantis/70174000007/

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