Governor DeSantis’ Legislative Changes Could Have Major Implications for Undocumented Immigrants in Florida

On Thursday, February 23, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida proposed a series of legislative changes that could have major implications for undocumented immigrants living in the state.[0] DeSantis’ proposals, which come as he prepares for a possible 2024 bid for the White House, would require employers to use the E-Verify system, a federal database that allows employers to check workers’ employment status; impose penalties for human smuggling; strengthen statutes for the detention of illegal aliens; enhance penalties for document falsification; prohibit the issuance by local governments of ID cards to people who are not lawfully in the country; and eliminate out-of-state tuition waivers for undocumented immigrant students.

DeSantis has also proposed a bill that would make it a third-degree felony to “transport, conceal, or harbor illegal aliens,” and a second-degree felony if the person being transported is a minor.[1] The proposal is a major reversal from the stance taken by his predecessor, Governor Rick Scott, who signed a bill in 2014 giving undocumented immigrants the right to pay in-state tuition rates at universities.[2]

DeSantis has been harshly critical of President Joe Biden’s border policies, and said that his proposals were in response to the “increasing threats posed by illegal immigration as a result of the Biden administration’s failure to secure our nation’s borders.”[3] Last week, the governor signed a controversial bill which would result in the state transporting migrants to “sanctuary” areas of the country. This bill was passed during a special legislative session, and came after the DeSantis administration sparked a controversy — and legal challenges — by transporting about 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts in September.[4]

The proposals have been met with opposition from a number of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Florida Immigrant Coalition, which argue that they would create a hostile environment for undocumented immigrants and restrict their opportunities.

Regardless of the outcome of the proposals, it is clear that DeSantis’ immigration policies will have a major impact on the state of Florida.

0. “DeSantis wants new restrictions on undocumented students and workers” Business Insider, 23 Feb. 2023,

1. “Governor Proposes Legislation to Require All Florida Employers to Use E-Verify” WQCS, 23 Feb. 2023,

2. “Gov. DeSantis’ anti-illegal immigration push includes repeal of tuition law backed by Jeanette Nuñez” Florida Politics, 23 Feb. 2023,

3. “DeSantis Refuels Immigration Debate for March Legislative Session | Daily Business Review”, 24 Feb. 2023,

4. “DeSantis’s migrant worker relocation plan cleared for takeoff as lawsuit gets grounded” The Capitolist, 23 Feb. 2023,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top