The New Immigration Bill HB 1718/SB 1718
Posted: May 28, 2023
The controversial HB 1718/SB 1718, Florida’s latest immigration bill, has successfully passed both chambers of the Florida government. It is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2023. Supporters argue that it strengthens enforcement of federal immigration laws that have been overlooked by the current administration. However, critics contend that it intrudes on federal authority and has negative consequences for Florida communities. The new policy comprises a compilation of modifications to various existing statutes with the primary objective as one: targeting individuals in Florida without lawful immigration status.
What are the effects of SB 1718?
Impact on Identification/Driver’s Licenses
There are two newly enacted statutes designed to prevent undocumented Florida residents from acquiring a Florida ID: Fla. Stat. §125.0156 and §166.246. These laws prohibit counties and cities from providing funding for the issuance of identification cards or documents to individuals who cannot demonstrate lawful presence in the United States. ID cards are extremely important as they are often required to engage in day-to-day activities. With limited access to funding for IDs, obtaining necessary identification will become more challengin.
Another introduced law, Fla. Stat. §322.033, aims to prevent undocumented individuals from using out-of-state driver's licenses in Florida. Some states issue licenses to individuals without lawful immigration status. Typically, states recognize driver's licenses issued by other states, but §322.033 invalidates such licenses in Florida. If an undocumented individual possesses a license from another state specifically issued to undocumented immigrants without proof of lawful presence, that license will not be recognized in Florida and the person will be cited for driving without a license. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will maintain a list of invalid out-of-state licenses on its website. Furthermore, §322.02 has been amended to exclude undocumented immigrants whose out-of-state license is invalidated under §322.03 and individuals with an invalidated out-of-state license are not exempt from obtaining a valid driver's license in Florida.
Impact on Hospitals
Fla. Stat. §395.3027 mandates hospitals accepting Medicaid to request patients disclose their United States citizenship status or if they are present in the country unlawfully, but to also inform the patients the disclosure will not impact their medical treatment, nor their identity shared with government authorities. The purpose is to gather data regarding the number of undocumented individuals who are receiving publicly funded medical services. However, concerns have been raised that this information might be utilized to initiate deportation proceedings against undocumented immigrants.
Impact on Employment
While Fla. Stat. §448.09 already exists pertaining to the employment of undocumented immigrants without proper authorization, the recent amendment increases penalties on employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants – higher fines, probation periods with lengths based on the number of unauthorized employees, and revocation of licenses. An undocumented immigrant employee using fraudulent documents to secure employment can be charged with a third-degree felony, facing up to five years of imprisonment.
The new law expands §448.095, requiring employers with 25 or more employees to register with E-Verify to verify employment authorization within 3 business days of the employee’s start date. Public agencies are mandated to utilize E-Verify and are prohibited from entering into contracts with private companies who do not utilize the program. Subcontractors are required to provide contractor with affidavits attesting they do not employ unauthorized immigrants. For companies not utilizing the program, they can be fined $1,000.00 per day until they prove compliance.
Impact on DACA Lawyers
Previously, §454.021(3) authorized the Florida Supreme Court to admit undocumented immigrants, including DACA recipients, as licensed attorneys in the state of Florida. DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, were brought to this country as children and raised here – often becoming more familiar with US customs and society than their birth country. However, this new policy provides an amendment that repeals the law, revoking the authority of the Florida Supreme Court to admit DACA recipients as lawyers to the Florida Bar. Current DACA recipients will not lose their license, but undocumented immigrants currently attending law school or studying for the bar must be admitted before November 1, 2028, for their license to be valid.
Impact on Driving Undocumented
Individuals The new bill revises Fla. Stat. §787.07, regarding human smuggling, to include a third-degree felony for those who transport into Florida any person who the defendant knows or reasonably should know has entered the United States – regardless of when – in violation of the law and has not undergone inspection for unlawful entry. Unfortunately, there are no statutory exceptions for lawful family members transporting undocumented family members into the state, even if just returning to Florida from a family vacation in another state. This statute has also increased penalties for transporting a minor who is an undocumented immigrant, increasing the charge from third-degree felony to a second-degree felony, carrying a maximum prison sentence of up to 15 years. If transporting five or more undocumented immigrants, regardless if at one time or separate occasions, or have a prior conviction under this, the charge will be a second-degree felony. This significant expansion of the statute will likely be challenged on various legal grounds, including claims of overbreadth and vagueness. It is important to note that this law does not apply to individuals who lawfully entered the United States but overstayed their visas.
Impact on ICE Detainees
Regardless of their immigration status or US citizenship, individuals in the state of Florida who are convicted of specific crimes are obligated to provide a DNA sample for inclusion in a DNA database. Now, under Fla. Stat. Section 943.325, individuals in ICE custody must also provide a DNA sample. The issue with this is that ICE detainers are issued by a federal law enforcement agency without a judicial determination of probable cause, and there is no protection from error or insufficient evidence. ICE frequently makes mistakes, as internal records are often flawed or incomplete, and it is possible for an individual to be subjected to an immigration detainer based on mistaken identity. Under the current statute, such individuals would be subjected to an invasive DNA seizure.
This new legislation in Florida is clearly targeting undocumented individuals. Immigration falls under federal jurisdiction, but supporters argue this usurpation of federal power is positive, alleging the federal government has failed in immigration enforcement. However, in addition to how it fails to distinguish between those with pending immigration applications and those without any pending applications, this new legislation will impact more than just undocumented immigrants but negatively impact the state of Florida and its communities. With an increase in the use of Florida’s money and resources to implement these new laws, overbreadth and vagueness of the laws, and a strained relationship between Florida and the federal government, Florida’s communities will suffer. As such, this new immigration bill is expected to face extensive legal challenges.