Updated: Jun 30
Here is what we know so far about the new Florida' Senate Bill 1718, the Immigration Bill.
In February 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis proposed legislation that would suppress ILLEGAL immigration in the state of Florida. In April, the Florida Senate passed the resulting bill (SB 1718), and on May 2, the House followed suit. On May 10th, Governor DeSantis signed it into law.
What are the main parts of the new FL Immigration Law?
Employment rules: For some time, the federal E-verify system has applied only to public employers and contractors, but with this new bill, all companies with 25 or more employees must use E-Verify to ensure employment eligibility of their workers. Employers that fail to comply could lose their operating licenses. In addition, the legislation allows for random audits of companies suspected of employing undocumented workers.
With this new legislation, Florida businesses must be vigilant in their hiring practices and ensure they are following the E-Verify requirements. The new rules could heavily impact agriculture, hospitality and construction.
Transportation limits: The bill calls for stronger criminal penalties for human smuggling, which includes helping people from other countries enter Florida. (The original proposal called for criminal charges against anyone transporting migrants within the state, but that section is NOT included in the new law.) Senate Bill 1718 also enhances the crime of human smuggling when smuggling a minor, when smuggling more than five people, and when the defendant has a prior conviction for human smuggling. This bill also adds the crime of human smuggling to the list of crimes allowed for prosecution under the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act.
Healthcare requirements: Hospitals that receive federal and state Medicaid reimbursements will now be required to track and report the amount of money spent to care for illegal immigrants in their emergency rooms.
Someone who does not have legal immigration status should not be reluctant to seek medical assistance for fear of deportation. A hospital cannot turn you away for emergency medical care.
Driver’s licenses and other IDs: Non-citizens who have received driver’s licenses in other states will be barred from using them in Florida. Also, local governments will be prohibited from funding the creation of identification cards for illegal immigrants. Additionally, this legislation creates a third-degree felony for someone without lawful immigration status to use a false ID document to gain employment knowingly.
Unauthorized Alien Transport Program: The bill provides up to $12 million to fund the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program (part of the Division of Emergency Management). This program stemmed from DeSantis’s transportation of immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last year.
The law does not place a ban on in-state tuition for immigrant children.
Supporters of the legislation believe the measures are necessary to protect Floridians from an immigrant invasion, while opponents consider the requirements cruel and excessive.
There will likely be lawsuits filed to prevent this legislation from taking effect. Stay calm. Things change rapidly. Stay informed by the proper news media that are not just trying to scare you.
If you have questions about how the legislation will impact you or your company, do not hesitate to consult us so can advise you on hiring practices and other issues and help ensure you comply with the new requirements.