Florida’s Controversial SB 1718 Immigration Bill

In a significant and controversial move, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida Senate Bill 1718 into law. This legislation, took effect on July 1st, 2023, and has raised concerns among immigrant communities and advocates for immigrant rights. SB 1718 encompasses a range of provisions that have far-reaching implications for immigrants and those around them. Whether you’re an undocumented immigrant or a born citizen, it’s important to know the implications and the bill’s potential impact.

  1. Traveling Into Florida

One of the most contentious provisions of SB 1718 pertains to the transportation of undocumented individuals into Florida. Under this law, providing transportation to undocumented people from outside Florida into the state is now considered a criminal offense. This includes providing transportation for family members, friends, or co-workers. Offenders could face severe penalties, including up to 15 years in prison. However, it’s important to note that providing transportation within the state to an undocumented person remains legal.

  1. Driver’s Licenses

SB 1718 also has implications for driver’s licenses. Out-of-state driver’s licenses held by undocumented individuals are no longer valid in Florida. Those caught driving with such licenses could face fines and potential detention. If you are an undocumented person traveling to or residing in Florida with a license from another state, it is advisable to have a clear safety plan in place to navigate these new regulations.

  1. E-Verify

The bill mandates that businesses with 25 or more employees use the E-Verify system to determine work eligibility based on immigration status. The E-Verify system is known to be flawed and can have detrimental effects on businesses, the state’s economy, and the livelihoods of workers. This provision has raised concerns about its impact on employment opportunities and job security for immigrants.

  1. Community IDs

Local governments are now prohibited from providing funds for community IDs. However, existing community IDs remain valid forms of local identification, and community ID programs continue to operate. This measure may hinder access to essential services and support for immigrant communities.

  1. Seeking Healthcare

Hospitals will be required to inquire about a patient’s immigration status under SB 1718. However, it’s crucial to note that everyone, regardless of their immigration status, maintains the right to access healthcare. Patients have the option to decline answering questions about their immigration status when asked.

  1. Enforcement and Consequences

SB 1718 introduces stricter enforcement measures and penalties. It imposes fines, probation, and even license revocation for employers found in violation of employment eligibility verification requirements. The law also authorizes the termination of contracts with entities or individuals found to be employing unauthorized aliens.

Protecting Your Rights

The signing of SB 1718 into law by Governor Ron DeSantis has ignited a debate about its implications for immigrants and their communities in Florida. Those against it argue that it imposes significant challenges and restrictions on immigrants, potentially affecting their access to transportation, identification, employment, and healthcare. As the final consequences appear to unfold, it’s essential for undocumented individuals and those who support their rights to stay informed about its provisions and to seek legal guidance to navigate its potential impact.

Please note that we do not practice immigration law and cannot offer advice or counsel on the impact of SB 1718 on immigration itself. We do, however, practice criminal defense law and we see the potential impact on criminalized behaviors because of this law. If you or someone you love is concerned about the laws and how their activities may be impacted, the office of Heather Bryan Law, P.A. is here to provide guidance. Call (863) 825-5309 to schedule a free consultation.

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Heather Bryan Law, P.A.

Our firm has experience defending Floridians against all sorts of criminal charges. Additionally, we are well-equipped to handle emotionally charged family law matters and devastating personal injury cases.

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