Florida Passes Controversial Immigration Law, Drawing National Attention

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Miami on Jan. 26, 2023.Marta Lavandier / AP file

The state of Florida has passed a controversial new law targeting undocumented immigration, which has been widely criticized by civil rights groups. Signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, the law will take effect on July 1.The law requires companies with more than 25 employees to use the federal E-Verify system to verify the legal status of their employees and makes it a crime, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, to transport people in an irregular immigration situation from another state to Florida. It also prohibits the financing of local programs to grant undocumented immigrants identity documents and stops recognizing driver’s licenses issued out of state to migrants who entered the country illegally.

Additionally, the law prohibits the recognition of driver’s licenses issued out of state to migrants who entered the country illegally, and prohibits the financing of local programs to grant them identity documents. It also sets aside 12 million dollars for the transfer of undocumented migrants to other states in the country.

At the signing of the law in Jacksonville, Governor DeSantis accused President Joe Biden of neglecting illegal immigration and claimed that the Mexican drug cartels have more control over the southern border than the US government.

Critics of the law also point to the economic consequences of using E-Verify, which could cost the state’s economy $12.6 billion in one year. This would be detrimental to many industries in the state, such as construction, agriculture, catering and the leisure, which rely heavily on undocumented immigrant labor.

The new law has sparked outrage among many civil rights groups, who argue that the law is unconstitutional and discriminatory. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized the law as “an extreme and unprecedented violation of the rights of immigrants” and vowed to challenge it in the courts.

The Florida law is the latest in a series of controversial immigration-related laws passed by states in recent years. Critics of the law argue that it is yet another attempt by states to bypass federal laws and impose their own immigration policies, and that it will have damaging effects on vulnerable communities.