Florida House and Senate pass the most anti-immigrant legislation of any state in the U.S. Here’s a summary of what is in SB 1718:
1. Counties cannot provide funds to any person, entity, or organization to issue identification documents to an individual who does not provide proof of lawful presence in the United States. This would include adults and children who are overstayed their visa — meaning they entered legally but have now overstayed their visa and have no lawful status in the U.S.
2. Driver’s licenses and permits issued by other states exclusively to unauthorized immigrants are not valid. Many undocumented people obtain driver’s licenses from California and Washington and use them in Florida. These licenses will no longer be valid in Florida.
3. It is a third degree felony for foreign nationals who don’t have work authorization to knowingly use false identification documents or to fraudulently use identification documents of another person for the purpose of obtaining employment.
4. Employers are required to verify a new employee’s employment eligibility within 3 business days after the first day the new employee begins working for pay.
5. Beginning on July 1, 2023, a private employer with 25 or more employees shall use the E-Verify system to verify a new employee’s employment eligibility. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement; the Attorney General, the state attorney in the circuit in which the new employee works; the statewide prosecutor; or the Department of Economic Opportunity can demand copies of any documentation relied upon by the employer for the verification of a new employee’s employment eligibility.
6. Public agencies are required to use the E-Verify system to verify a new employee’s employment eligibility
7. Employers cannot continue to employ an unauthorized alien after obtaining knowledge that a person is or has become an unauthorized alien. Employers can lose their licenses to operate their business if they employ unauthorized aliens. Because of the way this is worded, this would include not just undocumented people who snuck into the U.S. but also foreign nationals who are on a visitor visa. This would apply to people who entered legally but overstayed their visa. There are many situations where a lawfully present foreign national does not have authorization to work, including being here on a student visa.
8. An unauthorized immigrant can not obtain a license to practice law in Florida after October 31, 2028. I don’t understand why the bill has a carve out until October 31, 2028.
9. It is a third-degree felony for persons who knowingly or who reasonably should know that they are transporting foreign nationals into Florida who entered the U.S. illegally. If the foreign national is a minor, it is a second-degree felony. Note the original provision that makes it a crime to transport foreign nationals who entered the U.S. illegally within Florida is not in the final version of SB 1718.
10. Any hospital that accepts Medicaid must include a provision on its patient admission or registration forms for the patient or the patient’s representative to indicate whether the patient is a United States citizen, lawfully present in the United States, or not lawfully present in the United States. The hospitals would then turn the data (not the individual names) over to the governor and Florida legislature quarterly and annually. The hospitals also have to quantify how much it costs to provide medical assistance to people who are not lawfully present in the U.S. This data would not just include people who entered the U.S. illegally. The hospital data includes adults and children who entered the U.S. legally but overstayed their visas. Note that if a foreign national falsely claims to be a U.S. citizen, he or she can face criminal charges and be deported, even if they have a green card.
12. It is unlawful for any person to knowingly to employ, hire, recruit, or refer, either for herself or himself or on behalf of another, for private or public employment within this the state, a foreign national who is not authorized to work in the U.S. This is an overly expansive provision that puts many Floridians in jeopardy of breaking the law. No Floridian can knowingly hire a foreign national who entered the U.S. illegally, overstayed their visa, is in the U.S. on a visitor visa or has not yet received work authorization. There are many scenarios where a foreign national is not authorized to work in the U.S. even if they entered the U.S. legally and are here legally. For example, a foreign national may be waiting on the government to issue work authorization associated with the foreign national’s valid immigration application.
13. Section 11 of SB 1718 revises the term “racketeering activity” in Florida Statute 908.104 to specify a state entity, local governmental entity, or law enforcement agency, or an employee, an agent, or a representative of the entity or agency, may not prohibit or in any way restrict a law enforcement agency from sending the applicable information obtained pursuant to certain provisions to a federal immigration agency.
14. Section 12 of SB 1718 has to do with the Florida Statute 908.104 “Cooperation with federal immigration authorities.”
15. Section 13 of SB 1718 has to do with Florida Statute 943.03(14). Section 13 explicitly expands the mission of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to include immigration matters and states, “FDLE, with respect to counter-terrorism efforts, responses to acts of terrorism within or affecting this state, coordinating with and providing assistance to the Federal Government in the enforcement of federal immigration laws, responses to immigration enforcement incidents within or affecting this state, and other matters related to the domestic security of Florida as it relates to terrorism and immigration.” Note the last part of the new law says “and immigration.” I.e., not necessarily related to terrorism or counter-terrorism matters. Later in Section 13, the added language includes, “… immigration enforcement incidents within or affecting this state.”
16. Section 14 of SB 1718 expands Florida’s Counter-Terrorism Florida Statute 943.03101 by adding immigration enforcement language. “… coordinating with and providing assistance to the Federal Government in the enforcement of federal immigration laws, and responses to immigration enforcement incidents within or affecting this state.”
17. Section 15 of SB 1718 expands Florida Statute 943.0311 by including immigration enforcement in this statute about Florida’s Chief of Domestic Security who is tasked with addressing terrorism in Florida. “Coordinate the efforts of the department in the ongoing assessment of this state’s vulnerability to, and ability to detect, prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from, acts of terrorism within or affecting this state and immigration enforcement incidents within or affecting this state.” Further, Florida’s Chief of Domestic Security shall regularly coordinate random workplace audits pursuant to Florida Statute 448.095 to ensure compliance and immigration enforcement and shall notify the Department of Economic Opportunity of any violations.
18. Section 16 of SB 1718 adds immigration enforcement to another anti-terrorism law, Florida Statute 943.0312. “Regional domestic security task forces. The Legislature finds that there is a need to develop and implement a statewide strategy to address prevention, preparation, protection, response, and recovery efforts by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, emergency management agencies, fire and rescue departments, first-responder personnel, and others in dealing with potential or actual terrorist acts within or affecting this state and potential or actual immigration enforcement incidents within or affecting this state.”
19. Section 17 of SB 1718 adds immigration enforcement to another anti-terrorism law, Florida Statute 943.0313. “Domestic Security Oversight Council. The Legislature finds that there exists a need to provide executive direction and leadership with respect to terrorism and immigration enforcement incident prevention, preparation, protection, response, and recovery efforts by state and local agencies in this state.”
20. Section 18 forces arrested juveniles and adults with an immigration detainer (an “immigration hold”) to provide their DNA to the state.
21. Section 19 has to do with Florida Statute 394.9082 Behavioral health managing entities. I don’t know why this was included in SB1718.
22. Section 20 redefines the term “employee” in Florida Statute 409.996 Duties of the Department of Children and Families. I don’t know why this was included in SB1718.
23. Section 21 of SB1718 appropriates $12 million from the General Revenue Fund for the governor’s “unauthorized alien transport program.” This means Floridians will pay $12 million to fly migrants who are lawfully admitted to the U.S. as asylees from any state to any state — i.e., not necessarily involving Florida at all. It should be noted that “unauthorized” is not the same as “illegal.” Unauthorized also refers to lawfully admitted foreign nationals who do not yet have work authorization. In fact, an “unauthorized alien” even includes foreign nationals who came to the U.S. legally on a visitor visa or legally admitted asylum applicants who are waiting, sometimes two years, for their work authorization paperwork from the government.
There are no appropriations in this legislation aside from the $12 million to fly lawfully present foreign nationals from state to state. Instead, Florida’s anti-terrorism resources will be significantly diluted in order to address even potential immigration enforcement incidents whether or not these incidents are in or out of Florida (see Section 16 of SB 1718).
Immigration Lawyer Susan Pai — Jacksonville FL
430 Honeycomb Way, Jacksonville, FL 32259
Phone — (904) 268–7812