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Florida’s State Government Pushes Forward A Controversial Immigration Law

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is trying to get support for a hard-line new immigration law in his state. The governor held a press conference in February where he touted the bill as a response to President Biden’s “woke” agenda. The new bill, which is being promoted as one of the toughest in the country, aims to crack down on illegal immigration.

A New Chapter in Anti-Immigration Reform

According to most accounts, Florida’s new bill makes up the toughest laws on illegal immigrants in nearly fifteen years. The last time a state government went after illegal immigrants in such a manner was Arizona in 2010. At the time, Arizona was the busiest route for immigrants coming into the United States from the south. Arizona state government responded by giving law enforcement free rein to stop and question people at will.

Florida’s new law includes several provisions to make it harder for illegal immigrants to settle down. It is a comprehensive and far-reaching set of measures that will make Florida a less attractive destination for undocumented immigrants.

What is in the Bill?

Florida’s anti-immigration bill targets the assistance illegal immigrants get from residents. It also gives law enforcement more power to go after undocumented immigrants. One law in the bill would make it a felony offense for a Florida resident to harbor or transport illegal immigrants. The bill also contains regulations that compel healthcare facilities to inquire about patients’ visa situations and disclose them to the state.

Further, the new laws give the government authority to revoke driver’s licenses obtained by illegal immigrants outside the state. The bill also gives law enforcement officers of the state the capacity to support federal agents in imposing national migrant policies. The bill allows state prosecutors to bring criminal charges against businesses that employ illegal immigrants. Sentences for such businesses and those who aid and abet undocumented immigrants could reach five years.

The Bill’s Supporters Explain Their Rationale

At a conference held on February 23, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis presented his bill and gave his thoughts on why it is necessary. He explained that the new law is about doing everything possible to fight against the crisis at the border. Other supporters of the sweeping legislation deny they are anti-immigration. Rather, they claim to be taking steps to ensure immigrants follow due process.

During a legal hearing concerning the new law, Republican senator Debbie Mayfield of the state legislature gave her view. She talked about following procedures and taking the path to legal immigration. She also reiterated that legal immigrants—those who come in legitimately—are not the target of the new laws.

Pushback From Advocacy Groups and Opposition Lawmakers

For the most part, the new laws have been the subject of much debate and criticism. Many consider it very controversial to force healthcare providers and law enforcement officers to ask people about their immigration status. Giving officers the power to request immigration status during routine traffic stops or other encounters might be considered an abuse of power.

Some have criticized the law as racist and anti-immigrant and have called for it to be repealed. They have also argued that it is unconstitutional and violates the rights of immigrants to due process and equal protection under the law.

Divided Opinions on Immigration

Governor Ron DeSantis has defended the law as a necessary step to protect Florida’s residents and economy. Supporters argue that illegal immigration has led to increased crime, lowered wages for workers, and strained public resources like healthcare and education. Other states on the southern border of the United States have also taken steps to curb the influx of illegal immigrants.

For example, Texas has always been at the forefront of immigration control. In an effort to get more manpower at the frontline, National Guard troops have recently been deployed at its border. Texas is also one border state that has frequently transported illegal immigrants to other places. The Arizona and Florida governments have also carried out such measures.

Reasons Why Some Oppose the Laws

The new law has been met with strong opposition from immigrant rights groups. Critics say that this provision could lead to racial profiling and discrimination as well as undermine trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.

Critics of the law have also pointed to the potential economic consequences of its passage. They argue that it could lead to a loss of revenue and jobs in industries that rely heavily on immigrant labor. Florida in particular is a state with a massive immigrant presence. Data shows that up to 20% of the state’s population is made up of migrants. These immigrants are the backbone of industries such as agriculture and hospitality.

For a Republican governor who is launching a presidential bid, a hard stance on immigration is welcomed by his supporters. One thing is certain, however: the fight over immigration is far from over. As the debate continues, it is likely that Florida and other states will continue to pass their own laws.

13 April 2023
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