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Challenges to Florida’s immigration bill

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Several organizations have announced that they will file a federal suit against Florida’s Senate Bill 1718, which was signed by the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, on May 13, and went into effect on July 1 (with certain measures to apply as of July 1, 2024).

Headshot of Richard Smoley

For better or worse, the governor is probably right in calling the bill’s measures “the most ambitious anti-illegal immigration laws in the country.” Here is the bill in full:

Major provisions, according to DeSantis’s website:

“This legislation will require private employers with 25 or more employees to use the E-Verify system for new employees, beginning on July 1, 2023. This bill also expands penalties for employers who fail to comply with E-Verify requirements, including the possible suspension and revocation of employer licenses and the imposition of specific penalties on employers that knowingly employ illegal aliens.

“Additionally, this legislation creates a third-degree felony for an unauthorized alien to knowingly use a false ID document to gain employment and prohibits a county or municipality from providing funds to any person or organization for the purpose of issuing IDs or other documents to an illegal alien.

“Importantly, illegal aliens will no longer be permitted to rely on out-of-state driver licenses. If another state issued a license to an illegal alien who was unable to prove lawful presence in the U.S. when his or her license was issued, that person is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle in Florida.”

In addition, any hospital receiving Medicaid is required to collect information on patients’ immigrant status upon admission.

The organizations filing suit against the law include the American Immigration Council, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Florida, and Americans for Immigrant Justice, contending that it is anti-immigrant.

“The sole and exclusive power to regulate immigration policy is granted by the U.S. Constitution to the federal government, not the states,” said Paul R. Chavez, senior supervising attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project. “Gov. DeSantis’ attempt to create a separate, competing state-run immigration enforcement system impedes the federal government’s ability to do its job.”

The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) BB #:378962 showed no warmth toward Florida’s new legislation.

Robert Guenther, IFPA chief public policy officer, commented, “The current situation facing growers in Florida is exactly the reason why Congress must act to reform our broken immigration system. The recent patchwork of state laws and regulations borne out of Congressional inaction continues to threaten the future of our industry and that is why only a Federal solution to our crisis will suffice.”


Richard Smoley, contributing editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 13 books.