Devastating impact of the new immigration law in Florida

Devastating impact of the new immigration law in Florida

In recent days, the enactment of SB 1718 in Florida has caused an uproar among the immigrant and labor community. This new state legislation requires businesses with more than 25 employees to use the federal E-Verify verification system and penalizes employers who hire undocumented or falsely documented workers.

While the law is presented as a measure to curb illegal immigration, its consequences are devastating thousands of workers and seriously affecting the state’s economy.

Protests and fear

In the days leading up to SB 1718 taking effect, protests have taken place in the central state towns of Jupiter and Lake Worth Beach. Immigrants and workers took to the streets to express their discontent and warn about the damage this law will cause to the state’s economy. Many are afraid of being detained and deported, so they have opted to leave Florida in search of safer places. According to the Florida Farmworkers Association, between 8% and 10% of the workforce has fled to other states.

Impact on the immigrant community

Florida has an immigrant population estimated at 8% of its total, which represents about 1.8 million people. The integration of this community into the state’s labor force is crucial, especially in sectors such as agriculture, construction, professional services and transportation.

However, the entry into force of SB 1718 has generated an exodus of undocumented workers, which negatively impacts these industries and the economy in general.

Economic and Fiscal Consequences

SB 1718 imposes fines and prison sentences on employers who hire undocumented workers or workers with false documents. This raises concerns among employers, as the fines can be up to $5,000 or five years in prison, which represents a considerable economic burden.

In addition, the law requires the mandatory use of the employment verification tool E-Verify, which implies an additional cost for companies. It is estimated that failure to comply could cost Florida’s economy $12.6 billion in one year.

Industries most affected

SB 1718 has a significant impact on several key Florida industries. Construction, professional services, accommodation and food services, retail trade, miscellaneous services and agriculture are the most affected sectors.

These industries employ large numbers of undocumented workers, representing nearly 10% of the workforce. Without these workers, employers would suffer a loss of 10% of their workforce and the wages these workers bring in. This would have a significant impact on the state’s economy.

The Legislators’ Call

Despite the negative consequences of SB 1718, some Republican state legislators have urged immigrant workers not to leave Florida.

According to them, the law was designed to deter new undocumented immigrants from coming to the state, not to persecute those who already have jobs. However, this narrative has failed to convince the immigrant community, which continues to fear arrest and deportation.

Health and social impact

The implementation of SB 1718 also has consequences beyond the economy. It is feared that the law will deter crime victims from reporting and seeking medical care for fear of being questioned about their immigration status.

This could have a negative impact on the safety and well-being of the immigrant community at large. In addition, blended families, which include U.S. citizens and undocumented spouses, could face human trafficking charges under the vague provisions of the law.

Worker exile

The fear and uncertainty generated by SB 1718 have led many workers to leave Florida in search of safer places. Through social networks, one can find numerous testimonies of workers who have decided to leave or who have already done so.

These testimonies reflect the desolation and fear they feel at the possibility of being detained and deported. This exodus of undocumented workers is having a devastating impact on the state’s workforce.

Impact on medical care

The lack of adequate information from the state has led many undocumented workers to avoid seeking medical care for fear of being detained and deported. This puts their health and that of their families at risk.

It is important to note that hospital patients are not required to disclose their immigration status and can seek care without fear. However, the lack of communication on this issue has led an undetermined number of workers to leave Florida for fear of arrest.

Impact on Taxes and Purchasing Power

Undocumented workers contribute significantly to Florida’s economy through tax payments. According to a report by the Florida Policy Institute, undocumented workers paid nearly $923 million in state and local taxes in 2019.

In addition, their purchasing power accounts for a significant portion of the state’s tax revenue. The loss of these workers and their tax revenues would have a negative impact on Florida’s economy and public finances.

Conclusions

Enactment of SB 1718 in Florida has triggered a series of devastating consequences for the immigrant community and the state’s economy.

The exodus of undocumented workers, the impact on key industries, the fear of detention and deportation, and the deterrence of crime victims are just a few examples of the negative effects of this law.

Solutions that protect workers’ rights and promote an inclusive and just society must be sought.