Florida’s SB1718 Bill Is a Car Crash About to Happen

Florida’s SB1718 Bill Is a Car Crash About to Happen

This month I will be attending the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) annual conference in Orlando, Florida. Coincidentally, Florida law makers have passed a law to significantly crack down on those who do not have lawful status in the United States. Here is the summary from the Florida Senate website

Immigration; Prohibiting counties and municipalities, respectively, from providing funds to any person, entity, or organization to issue identification documents to an individual who does not provide proof of lawful presence in the United States; specifying that certain driver licenses and permits issued by other states exclusively to unauthorized immigrants are not valid in this state; requiring certain hospitals to collect patient immigration status data information on admission or registration forms; requiring the Department of Economic Opportunity to enter a certain order and require repayment of certain economic development incentives if the department finds or is notified that an employer has knowingly employed an unauthorized alien without verifying the employment eligibility of such person, etc.

What will the Florida state law do?

From the Tallahassee Democrat the new state law will do the following:

  • Requires employers to verify a new employee’s employment eligibility within three business days after the first day the new employee begins working for pay.
  • Requires private employers with 25 or more employees and all public agencies to use the federal E-Verify system to verify a new employee’s employment eligibility, starting on July 1.
  • Requires employers to fire an employee if they discover them to be a “foreign national” who is not authorized to work in the U.S. and makes it illegal for any person to knowingly employ, hire, recruit or even refer, either for herself or himself or on behalf of another, for private or public employment within the state, such a person.
  • Repeals a 2014 law allowing immigrants living in the country illegally to practice law in the state.
  • Hospitals that accept Medicaid must ask patients if they are U.S. citizens and if they are here legally, and report that data (without personally identifying information) to the governor quarterly and annually.
  • Invalidates out-of-state driver’s licenses issued to “unauthorized immigrants.”
  • Force arrested adults and juveniles with an immigration detainer (an “immigration hold”) to provide their DNA to the state.
  • Makes it a third-degree felony for anyone who knowingly or who reasonably should know that they are transporting immigrants who entered the country illegally into Florida. Transporting a minor is a second-degree felony.
  • Expands the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s counter-terrorism efforts to include immigration matters.
  • Appropriates tax dollars to be used for DeSantis’ “unauthorized alien transport program,” the program he began when he flew about 50 Venezuelan migrants in two charter planes from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
NPR further reports that “The Florida Policy Institute, a nonprofit policy research group, estimates that without undocumented workers, the state’s most labor-intensive industries would “lose 10 percent of their workforce and the wages they contribute along with them.” That could lead to a drop of $12.6 billion in Florida’s GDP in a single year — about 1.1% — which would, in turn, cut workers’ spending power and reduce state and local tax revenue.”
In additon to the business catastrophe in the state, there is a real, human impact of this legistlation. Putting aside that the legislation of US immigration has been clearly set out in the US Constitution, the new Florida law redefines “human smuggling” as ” person who transports into Florida someone they know (or should have known) is an immigrant who has not been “inspected” by authorities could be charged with a felony for human smuggling.” A person who is found to have transported fewer than five immigrants on their first offenc could be charged with a third-degree felony with a sentence of up to five years or fined $5,000 per count.
US immigration law is very complex and what will happen if a family member drives another family member across state lines and that person happens to have entered the US without inspection or has fallen out of status? How will state police determine whether someone has been properly “inspected”?
This new law will likely face challenges (I hope) on the basis that it violates the US Constitution law. In a state that is suffering from lack of workers, it will have negative effect on the state’s economy and also the person life of many of those who live in the state.
Please note this posting is the opinion of Janice Flynn and is not considered legal advice. For further information, please contact Janice Flynn at janice@flynnhodkinson.com.