Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida Bill 1718 and it will go into effect July 1, 2023. In this blog, we'll discuss everything you need to know about the bill, including what the bill actually calls for and how it affects both current and future residents of Florida and anyone that is traveling in and out of Florida. This bill affects United States Citizens as well! It affects all employers in Florida. It is a crushing blow to Immigrant Rights. President Biden’s administration is expected to sue the State of Florida and will seek an injunction against the implementation of this bill. Similar bills have been defeated in Arizona and Texas.
The bill imposes strict regulations and severe repercussions. It mandates heightened employment verification protocols, criminalizes individuals who travel with undocumented people, instructs hospitals to disclose expenses incurred while treating them, and prohibits the utilization of out-of-state driver's licenses for undocumented individuals in Florida. The legislation comprises nearly all the provisions that DeSantis requested, with the notable exclusion of the prohibition on in-state tuition for the children of immigrants not making it into the final bill.
Below we've compiled brief summaries of each of the new stipulations featured in SB 1718:
The federal government's E-verify system, previously applicable only to public employers and contractors, has now been extended to encompass all companies with 25 or more employees. This bill requires employers to verify the eligibility of their new hires via E-Verify and those who fail to comply may risk license revocation. Additionally, the bill facilitates random audits of businesses suspected of hiring undocumented workers.
Public agencies are also required to use the E-Verify system to verify a new employee’s employment eligibility.
Employers cannot continue to employ an unauthorized alien after obtaining knowledge that a person is or has entered the country illegally. Employers are required to verify a new employee’s employment eligibility within three business days after the first day the new employee begins working for pay.
It is unlawful for any person to knowingly employ, hire, recruit or refer, either for herself or himself or on behalf of another, for private or public employment within the state, a “foreign national” who is not authorized to work in the U.S. Violating the new law could result in a series of escalating penalties that could lead to the state suspending or revoking all licenses to operate their business.
Makes it a crime to transport five or more undocumented people or a single undocumented minor (even your own undocumented children or stepchildren) into the State of Florida. A person can be convicted of a second degree felony subject to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.
Undocumented people are no longer permitted to use driver’s licenses issued from other states and prohibits Florida state ID cards to be issued to them. Thus, truckers with an out of state commercial driver’s license would not be permitted to use that license to drive into Florida.
Effective immediately, hospitals receiving federal and state Medicaid reimbursements must maintain records and submit reports on the cost of treating undocumented immigrants in emergency rooms. Thus, these hospital personnel are required to ask the immigration status of each person it treats.
SB 1718 also bars non-citizens from using out-of-state driver’s licenses in Florida. Additionally, local governments are prohibited from financing the development of identification cards for illegal immigrants.
Governor DeSantis had aimed to abolish in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants, commonly known as “Dreamers.” However, he encountered insufficient backing in the state legislature. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers recognize that access to higher education is advantageous for Florida's overall economy. The bill does, however, revoke a 2014 regulation that granted undocumented immigrants the right to practice law in the state.
The legislation allocates a maximum of $12 million to finance the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Division of Emergency Management. This program was established as a result of DeSantis's relocation of migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard in the previous year.
DeSantis, a U.S. presidential candidate in 2024, has aggressively pursued multiple anti-immigration policies during his tenure. Starting with his effort to ban "sanctuary cities", his latest bill is the culmination of these measures. Advocates of this law assert that it is necessary to safeguard Floridians from an influx of immigrants, while critics decry it as inhumane and excessive.
Florida businesses must exercise caution when hiring and comply with E-Verify regulations due to the recent legislation. The agriculture, hospitality, and construction sectors are experiencing a severe shortage of workers since the announcement of the signing of the bill. Furthermore, individuals working in healthcare may encounter challenges as undocumented immigrants may be hesitant to seek medical attention due to the fear of being deported.
If you have concerns regarding the effect of the legislation on yourself or your business, it is recommended to seek assistance from legal counsel. With the aid of a knowledgeable immigration attorney, you can receive guidance on hiring policies and other related concerns to ensure adherence to the new regulations. The skilled legal team at Familia America is here to answer any questions you may have and is committed to ensuring the safety and security of immigrants throughout the country. Contact us today, and we'll answer any questions you may have as you navigate the effects of this bill and the always-changing US immigration system.