Florida Governor announces sweeping legislation aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration

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Governor Ron DeSantis announced sweeping legislation that he hopes will curb illegal immigration in Florida in a press conference held here in Jacksonville Thursday morning.

The legislation calls for more than a dozen changes.

During the announcement, Governor DeSantis stood behind a podium bearing a sign reading “Biden’s Boarder Crisis” with font mirroring the President’s campaign logo from 2020.


“We’re fighting back on behalf of Floridians, and I think if other states mimic the proposals that have been put forth today in the proposed legislation that Blaise Ingoglia has, it’s gonna make a big, big difference. And it’s really gonna, I think, force the federal government to get with the program and finally secure and defend the boarders of the United States of America,” said DeSantis.

Among the changes in the Governor’s proposal is the expansion of E-Verify requirements.

It would mandate all private employers screen the immigration status of prospective employees through the federal E-Verify system.

“If you remove the enticement of employment, then they’re not going to want to come illegally to the State of Florida,” said DeSantis.

DeSantis pushed E-Verify in 2020, but it was watered down by the legislature after the agriculture and hospitality industries voiced objections.

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Under the current law, private businesses can use the E-Verify system or retain I-9 documentation on their employees - an alternative option DeSantis argued has made enforcement difficult.

State Representative Anna Eskamani argues many industries in Florida often rely on undocumented laborers, and mandatory E-Verify could have significant negative impacts on the economy.

“If we’re going to continue to drive our economy forward, we need to have a diverse workforce and welcome immigrants, not continually deaminize and in this case, completely push them out and even arrest and deport them,” said Eskamani.

The Governor also wants to remove out-of-state tuition waivers for DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants who attend high school in Florida.

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“If we want to hold the line on tuition then you gotta say you need to be a US citizen who lives in Florida,” said DeSantis.

Ironically, the waiver was sponsored by DeSantis’ own Lieutenant Governor in the 2014 legislative session.

Currently more than 40,000 undocumented students receive the tuition waiver - students Eskamani argued the state can’t afford to lose.

“And that used to be a universal bipartisan policy position, but because DeSantis is trying to out-Trump, Trump and everything Trump does is very much around the efforts of dividing communities, he sees this as another opportunity to appeal to his conservative base,” said Eskamani.

DeSantis is also pitching enhanced penalties for transporting and harboring illegal immigrants, prohibiting local governments from issuing IDs to those here illegally, requiring a citizenship attestation on voter registration forms, requiring hospitals to document immigration statuses of patients and report the cost of care provided to unauthorized immigrants, closing loopholes that allow for release from ICE detention and prohibiting illegal immigrants from practicing law in Florida.

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