Ron DeSantis' immigration bill is already leading to labor shortages (2023)

Videos from Florida aren't hard to find: Dozens of clips of empty fields, abandoned construction sites and dozens of truckers calling for a boycott of the state have garnered hundreds of thousands of views onTik TokITwitterin the last month. A common thread? Fear and frustration over the state's latest anti-immigration law,undersigneda week ago by the RepublicansGovernor Ron DeSantis, which requires businesses with 25 or more employees to verify workers' citizenship status through the federal online portal E-Verify or face stiffer penalties, among other new restrictions.

Thenew law, which takes effect July 1, is the latest move by DeSantis to leverage immigration policy as he prepares for a possible, as-yet-unannounced, presidential campaign in 2024. The law, one of the strictest state immigration measures in the United States, sees appear to be opposed toPresident Joe Bidenhandle itimmigration policyuntil the controversial period of the pandemicSection 42 of the Health Regulationsfinished last week. But the bill's effect, critics say, would be a sweeping and intrusive crackdown on the state's large immigrant community, which will face the brunt of the new rules.

Florida is home to about 800,000 undocumented immigrants, many of whom work in jobs that would be affected by the bill, known as SB 1718. Many of those affected are also members of mixed-status families — where a son or daughter, for example, may be US citizens while their parents are not. The law's effect extends beyond the workplaceMedical careand highways: Even family members could be targeted by police under a new provision that punishes anyone who "knowingly and intentionally" transports an undocumented person across the state line in Florida.

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Thelovalso requires Florida hospitals that accept Medicaid to collect data on patients' immigration status and estimate and report health care costs for undocumented people in the state. it no longer allows undocumented people to use driver's licenses issued by other states and prohibits them from issuing state ID cards.

Taken together, the provisions could also deal a devastating blow to Florida businesses that rely on immigrant labor, forcing workers and their families to leave Florida, Samuel Vilchez Santiago, director of American Business, told the Vox Florida State Immigration Coalition.

"The narrative that immigrants are not welcome here will have a major impact on our business community—especially industries like construction, hospitality, health care, and agriculture—because they rely solely or primarily on immigrant labor. As fear becomes the norm in immigrant communities, a lot of these migrant workers are going to start leaving the country and looking elsewhere," Vilchez Santiago said. "And there's a lot of fear in immigrant communities across the state."

@blomst in Spanish

Acres and acres, tons and tons, of rotting food in the fields of Florida. AGRICULTURAL WORKERS NO LONGER MEET AT WORK. LET'S SOLIDARIZE AND BOYCOTT ORANGE JUICE AND FLORIDA PRODUCTION!!#Florida #boycottfloride #floridastate #farmers

♬ Imigranti (We Get The Job Done) - K'naan & Snow Tha Product & Riz MC & Residente

The law was already causing panic across Florida before DeSantis signed it. In South Florida, reporters withlokale CBS News affiliateobserved vacant construction sites across Miami-Dade County and spoke with construction workers who said many of their employees don't show up for work because they fear deportation. OneNBC affiliateinterviewed farmers in South Florida who were considering leaving the state for fear of prosecution.

DeSantis' office referred Vox to comments the governor made during a news conference this week. "When we have something like E-Verify, it's a tool to make sure Florida's long-standing law is enforced," DeSantis said. “You can't build a strongEconomyon the basis of illegality".

Gina Fraga, an immigration attorney in Palm Beach, told Vox that she knows of many families preparing to move out of state because of "panic" about the law. Undocumented workers he knows in construction, landscaping and agriculture are now being fired because of the law, which includes harsh penalties for human trafficking that makes no exceptions for mixed-status families or those who came to the U.S. as children and are subject to deferred action program for the arrival of children.

Thefinesunder SB 1718 are strict: Businesses that don't use E-Verify would be fined $1,000 a day, and the state would suspend the employer's license if they were caught hiring an undocumented person. The law toostrongerPenalties for human trafficking and smuggling, including US citizens, make it a second-degree felony, punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison, to transport five or more undocumented persons or an undocumented minor into the state of Florida. .

DeSantishe called"he is honored to introduce this bill into the process" and said it should serve "as a model for the nation to combat this crisis of our president's own making."

Fraga, who volunteers with the Farmers Coordinating Council, a nonprofit group for farmworkers, said the harshest penalty for crossing state lines is a direct attack on farmers because of their seasonal nature.job. "Depending on the vegetables, they're going to South Carolina, Georgia — they're so scared right now, and a bunch of them are moving to Georgia, and they're not planning on coming back to Florida," he said. "That means everyone is going to be hit in our grocery stores in terms of prices because nobody wants to do these jobs."

And all that fear and confusion has been captured online with various clips showing workers walking off the job after learning of the new law's restrictions. Other videos show truck drivers calling for a boycott of Florida because they are threatened with crossing the state line.


it may be the best time to start building in Florida


These call for a boycottthey are composedfreelance journalist Arturo Dominguez on Twitter, and shared by Democratic politicians criticizing the new state law: "Ronov"I woke upThe war will cause the price of all goods and services to rise. Kudos to Ron for weakening Florida's economy and creating inflation,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried, a former agriculture commissioner, announced over the weekend.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also shared Dominguez's thread, arguing that "America is in such deep need right now, especially at work. Yet politicians (of all colors) take our immigrant communities for granted. Not us. It's time to stop bite the hands that feed."

However, the law has not yet come into effect and there may be legal challenges, Fraga said. And how much of an economic impact this new law will have in Florida is unknown — although anecdotally, it appears that business owners and employers are bracing for a major upheaval in the workforce at a time when Florida's unemployment rate is near record lows. a tight labor market. "The reality is Florida needs workers," Vilchez Santiago said. "The only way we can keep our economy going is to make sure our businesses have access to the work they need."

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Ron DeSantis' immigration bill is already leading to labor shortages (1)

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