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Susan Pai is admitted to the Washington State Bar, not the Florida Bar Attorney Pai's Florida legal practice is limited exclusively to Immigration & Nationality law


Florida’s SB 1718 Anti-Immigrant Law Includes Plenty of Penalties Against Employers Who Hire Lawfully-Present Foreign Nationals Who Are Waiting on Their Employment Authorization Document

Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis uses the terms “unauthorized” and “illegal” interchangeably when speaking. These are two very different legal terms. The new anti-immigrant law just signed into law by Governor DeSantis, SB1718, affects those who came here illegally, those who came here legally but overstayed their visa and those who are here legally but not authorized to work.

In the new law, $12 million has been appropriated for DeSantis’ “unauthorized alien transport program.” You might also see the term “inspected unauthorized aliens.” This verbiage is intended to mislead people into thinking “unauthorized” and “illegal” are the same thing. They are not.

Asylum applicants at the border, after a successful asylum interview, are given a court date or date to report to ICE. They then have to make a formal application of asylum either to the court or with USCIS (an I-589 application). Only after their I-589 has been pending for 150 days can they apply for an Employment Authorization Document EAD (an I-765 application). However, it may take a year or more to get the Employment Authorization Document. So, “inspected unauthorized alien” means a lawfully admitted (“inspected”) asylum seeker who has not yet received his or her EAD or work authorization. This is one of those many cases where someone is legally here in the U.S. but “unauthorized” to work.

“Unauthorized” means unauthorized to work in the U.S. so that includes people here on visitor visa. It will include some people here on a student visa. It will include overstays (which includes many Canadians and Europeans). It includes people in the middle of a valid immigration application who have been waiting over a year for their work authorization when they should have received it within 90 days of applying. Work authorization allows applicants to get a driver’s license and legally work while they are waiting for their green card.

The employer penalties in #SB1718, including the loss of all their business licenses, are not just for hiring people who entered illegally. Businesses in Florida will be penalized for hiring unauthorized foreign nationals including people who are here legally. E.g., a foreign national on a visitor visa or student visa.

Florida Legislature Passes SB1718, anti-immigrant legislation