DeSantis’ frightening new immigration law will endanger Floridians

Gov. DeSantis addressing the state while visiting FIU, June 19, 2020. Via FIU Flickr.

Mariantonia Mejia | Staff Writer

Gov. Ron DeSantis is becoming an enemy to all Florida citizens, with his newest targets being the undocumented as he signs the most extreme anti-immigration bill into law. 

DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1718 on Wednesday, May 10. Aiming to restrict immigration, the bill requires employers to verify their employees eligibility to work in the US three days after hire. It even requires hospitals accepting Medicaid to inquire about the citizenship status of a patient. 

Under this bill, the mission of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement expands to include matters of immigration. It also expands Florida anti-terrorism laws to include immigration law enforcement. 

Out-of-state drivers licenses given to “unauthorized immigrants” are now invalid, those arrested with an immigration hold must provide their DNA to the state and, more shockingly, $12 million allocated from the General Revenue Fund to DeSantis’s Unauthorized Alien Transport Program.

This bill will devastate most Florida businesses, particularly South Florida, since the workforce is, in large part, made up of illegal immigrants. A day after signing the bill, videos of empty construction sites have gone viral, with many claiming that undocumented workers are leaving over fear of losing their jobs. 

SB 1718 also comes with dangerous implications for healthcare, as it is much less likely that people will seek life-saving care if they also fear deportation. 

Vulnerable Floridians will die because of this bill.

Panic among Floridians is steadily building, with many considering leaving the state to escape an oppressive five-week abortion ban, a new unlicensed carry law, growing anti-trans legislation, now this bill and whatever else DeSantis can think to throw at us. 

Floridians, undocumented ones included, deserve to feel safe in their own state. South Florida especially has always been a home to immigrants of all sorts. These thriving communities don’t just attract tourism, but flourish Florida with distinct cultures and identities. Much of our rich culture is due to the Latine and Caribbean communities that built their roots here. 

If DeSantis were able to eradicate immigrants from Florida, as he so clearly seems to want to do, South Floridians can say goodbye to their favorite ventanitas, panaderías and cultural foods. 

They can also say goodbye to their family and friends. 54% of Miami are immigrants, 7.3% of them undocumented. 

Undocumented families will lose their access to resources because of this bill. Children’s lives will be displaced as their parents flee the state in fear of deportation and homelessness. Those that cannot flee the state will most certainly become unhoused. The death count will grow as illegal immigrants will refuse to seek medical care out of fear. 

This terror is exactly what DeSantis wants. The more afraid they are, the less likely undocumented people will be to step foot in Florida.

With a new inhumane bill passed nearly every week in Florida, it’s increasingly clear that what DeSantis and other Florida conservatives want isn’t increased safety. But instead, an ethnic cleansing. We must be prepared to fight, now more than ever, against these inhumane bills that terrorize the community. 


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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