Recently, the Florida Congress passed an immigration Law known as SB 1718, which will have significant consequences for immigrants and employers. The law creates new sections of the Florida Statutes. It is set to take effect on July 1, 2023, covering various areas such as driver’s licenses, employment, hospital admissions, human trafficking, etc. Below are some critical provisions of the bill that you should know.
The new law prohibits counties and municipalities from providing funds to any person, entity, or organization to issue identification documents to individuals who do not provide proof of lawful presence in the United States. This provision has significant implications for undocumented individuals living in Florida who may have relied on local government support to obtain identification.
Under the new law, certain driver’s licenses and permits issued by other states exclusively to unauthorized immigrants are not valid in Florida. Law enforcement officers and authorized representatives of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles are required to issue citations to individuals driving with these invalid licenses. The department must also maintain a list on its website of out-of-state driver’s licenses that are invalid in Florida.
Hospitals in Florida that accept Medicaid must include a question on their patient admission or registration forms about the patient’s immigration status. The patient or their representative must state whether the patient is a US citizen, lawfully present in the US, or not lawfully present in the US. However, the hospital must also assure the patient that their response will not impact their care or be reported to immigration authorities.
The new law invalidates the Florida Statutes, which allow an unauthorized immigrant to be admitted as an attorney authorized to practice law in the state of Florida.
Private employers are obligated to verify a person’s eligibility to work in the United States before hiring or referring them for employment. They must maintain records of the verification process for a minimum of five years and are prohibited from continuing to employ individuals who are found to be unauthorized to work. In addition, the Department of Economic Opportunity has been granted the authority to request specific documents from employers to ensure compliance with these regulations.
Private employers in Florida who knowingly hire unauthorized immigrants will face penalties as follows: A first violation will result in a fine of $5,000 for each unauthorized immigrant employed. If the employer commits a second violation within 24 months of the first, the fine will increase to $7,500 for each unauthorized immigrant employed, and any licenses held by the employer will be suspended for 120 days. If the employer commits a third or subsequent violation within 24 months of the first, the fine will be $10,000 for each unauthorized immigrant employed, and any applicable licenses held by the employer will be revoked.
Any immigrant who is not authorized to work in the United States and uses a false identification document or fraudulently uses another person’s identification document to obtain employment in the state of Florida commits a third-degree felony.
The new law makes it a felony of the third degree for a person to knowingly and willfully commit certain offenses related to human smuggling. These offenses include transporting an individual who has illegally entered the United States and has not been inspected by the Federal Government and concealing, harboring, or shielding from detection an individual who has entered the United States illegally and has not been inspected by the Federal Government.
|The law contains provisions that relate to cooperation with federal immigration authorities. It prohibits state and local entities from restricting law enforcement agencies from sharing information about a person’s immigration status with federal immigration agencies. |
The Department of Law Enforcement is to oversee and direct actions taken in response to federal immigration enforcement activities and immigration-related incidents within or pertaining to Florida.
|Individuals detained in a jail, correctional facility, or juvenile facility solely because of an immigration detainer who are considered qualifying offenders are required to provide a DNA sample. This requirement is activated once the law enforcement agency holding them receives the detainer. Therefore, the agency must promptly ensure that a DNA sample is collected from these offenders and transmitted on time to the immigration agency.|
Florida’s new immigration law carries significant implications for individuals, families, employers, and organizations throughout the state. As such, it is vital to comprehend the law’s key provisions to comply and evade potential legal repercussions. However, due to some of its ambiguous and stringent provisions, usurping the authority and responsibilities of the federal government, the law, will likely face strong opposition and result in litigations.
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