FLORIDA – Today, State Senator Blaise Ingoglia’s anti-immigration bill SB 1718 was heard in its first committee, the Senate Rules Committee. This bill is the thoughtless iteration of the unreasonable and politically driven anti-immigrant package announced by Governor Ron DeSantis on February 23rd. The bill, along with its companion in the House HB 1617, will harm our communities and may criminalize all Floridians, not only those who open their home, business, vehicle or place of worship to a broad category of immigrants. DeSantis and his legislature are leading the way in turning back the clock on human rights and descending us into a truly draconian state where residents live in fear of a government that overreaches into every corner of their lives and divides to conquer.
The bills will create:
- Mandates the use of the flawed e-verify system, and enhances fines and penalties on Florida businesses that hire working people navigating our complex immigration system up to $10,000 per worker and revocation of all business licenses in the state; additionally authorizes FDLE to conduct random audits of businesses for compliance, opening the floodgates for racial profiling and abuse of power.
- Creates criminal penalties for those welcoming a broad category of immigrants into their homes, businesses, vehicles, or places of worship. That creates a potential pool of over 700 thousand US Citizens in the state living with an undocumented immigrant. It will also prohibit places of worship from welcoming their followers, and most of all, limit our children’s freedom to have a normal social life.
- Florida will become a highly dangerous state for those visitors from other states who don’t have a regulated immigration status by prohibiting the use of their valid driver's license from their home state
- It also prohibits local governments from giving money to non-profits or other community-serving entities to create identification cards for immigrants neighbors who use them to navigate community spaces like running simple errands and identifying themselves at their child’s school
- Authorizes Sheriffs in county jails to take DNA samples when an immigrant is arrested and an ICE detainer is issued
- Mandates that hospitals receiving Medicaid dollars from the state start tracking how much money is spent on caring for our immigrant neighbors in Florida emergency rooms
- It removes the law that allows lawyers who are regulating their immigration status to get a law license in the State of Florida
State Senator Shevrin Jones, a member of the Rules Committee said,
“With this proposal, my colleagues are leading an attack on our neighbors, families, friends, and fellow Floridians. Governor Ron DeSantis and his Republican colleagues continue to show that they are more focused on attacking and vilifying immigrants and Latinos to advance their political agenda than solving the real problems hurting Floridians.”
David Metellus, Director of Politics and Policy for the Florida Immigrant Coalition was in the chamber where the bill was being discussed and said,
“It is disheartening to see and hear such clear and air-tight arguments against this bill being ignored by Republican Committee Members who ended up voting along party lines. There was no individual thinking or unique perspectives being offered, everyone was speaking as puppets for their puppet-master Governor DeSantis. This is his bill, his proposal, which will endanger the lives of Floridians from the Panhandle to the Florida Keys. These lawmakers stand ready to incarcerate Floridians who welcome friends and neighbors who hold a different immigration status than their own. Not to mention the thousands of Florida families who live in mixed-status households with loved ones who are working on regulating their immigration status, sometimes for more than 10 years to no avail. The legislators who voted yes, as well as Governor DeSantis are ready to label you a human trafficker for living under the same roof as your mother who has been navigating our complex immigration system for years. This is a disgrace and this policy should be roundly rejected by all.”
Renata Bozzetto, Deputy Director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition was in the chamber where the bill was being discussed and said,
“I invite you to reflect on the harm that SB1718 will cause not only by thinking about the 4.5 million immigrants who are making a home in Florida but to every Floridian whose everyday life is touched by people who are still navigating our very complicated immigration system.
Will you endorse with your vote a bill that could place one of your children in jail for giving a ride to a college mate who was born outside the U.S. and is still navigating the immigration system? Will you endorse with your vote, a bill that could place your parents in jail for being cared for by a healthcare aid in your own family home who still doesn’t have a regulated immigration status? This bill will cause harm. I urge you to lead with the Florida way. The Florida way is to welcome, that is why 1 in 4 of us are immigrants. You have the opportunity to do better.”
Tessa Petit, Executive Director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition mentioned,
“Sadly, we are not surprised at the passage of this bill in its first committee hearing. While the bill’s supporters voted mindlessly along party lines, we applaud all the people who summoned the courage to stand in front of a hostile committee to speak truth to power. We are very concerned about the direction that our state is taking, which is one of surveillance and persecution, not just for immigrants who live in Florida, but for citizens as well. This is a FREEDOM issue. This is a government overreach issue.
This bill has the potential to make felons out of every single Floridian. From the soccer mom taking her children's friends to a game, to the clergy opening his place of worship to the children of God. No one is exempt from this bill. The state is mandating who you can and cannot love, allow into your place of worship, business, or home; who you and your family can befriend, and how to interact with your neighbors, friends, and family who are immigrants in our state. It is time for Floridians to speak up and question the spineless puppet legislators who are supporting these inhumane and pointless divisive policies destroying our Florida Way!”
Yvette Cruz, Communications Coordinator for the Farmworker Association of Florida was in the chamber where the bill was being discussed and said,
“With the passing of this bill, all of Miami-Dade County will be impacted because the bill will impact all of us who interact with immigrants every day. The county is more than half foreign-born. We all know and love someone who is an immigrant, all the way back to the Peter Panners who came from Cuba and were welcomed when they were children. Also, tourists who have legally issued licenses from other states, while they navigate our complex immigration system, will be impacted to the point that if they come here and have an interaction with law enforcement, they could potentially never go back home.”