One of the most prominent Latino advocacy groups in the United States is urging people to avoid traveling to Florida ahead of a new immigration law that’s set to go into effect in July.
Ahead of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ expected presidential bid announcement, he signed a law last week requiring employers with more than 25 employees to check their immigration status using a federal database known as E-Verify. Employers who don’t comply with the law face fines of $1,000 per day until they provide proof that their workers are legal citizens.
Additionally, the law invalidates out-of-state identification cards, such as driver’s licenses, issued to illegal immigrants and prevents Florida-based agencies from issuing new cards. This will prevent people who immigrated illegally to drive a car in the state. People who transport undocumented people living in the United States could face steep fines and possible imprisonment.
The immigration law is one of several controversial laws DeSantis signed recently that have garnered national attention as he prepares to potentially go up against former President Donald Trump and others in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
Domingo Garcia, president of the Latino advocacy group League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), called the new immigration law “hostile and dangerous.”
“As a result of this for only the second time in LULAC history, we’re issuing a travel advisory for anybody traveling to Florida,” Garcia said at a press conference on Wednesday. LULAC, a civil rights organization dedicated to advancing opportunities for Hispanic Americans, was established 94 years ago.
DeSantis said the law is crucial to fight back “against reckless federal government policies and ensuring the Florida taxpayers are not footing the bill for illegal immigration,” according to a statement when he signed the law earlier this month.
Francisco Maldonado, a farmer based in Homestead, Florida, said he personally isn’t worried about the new law because he employs fewer than 25 people. But he is worried that undocumented workers who stay in the state will be deported.
Farmers whom he knows who employ more than 25 workers are scared. “They don’t know what they’re going to do, they might lose part of the farm and they don’t know who is leaving,” he told CNN.
Many neighboring farms have already lost workers in anticipation of the law, he said. So far none of his workers have fled.
“Laws like this, that do nothing more than harass immigrants, are bad for a state’s economy.” said Lydia Guzmán, who leads LULAC’s immigration committee, on Wednesday.
Echoing those remarks, Maldonado said, “immigrant workers, really, are the drivers of Florida’s economy,” and the new law is “really punching down on the communities that make this economy run.”