FWAF Statement – Passing of immigration bill SB1718 – HB1617
The Senate Bill 1718/ House Bill 1617, better known as the immigration bill, was signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on May 10th. It is one of the cruelest immigration bills ever passed in the state of Florida. This restriction on job access affects individuals with unregulated immigration statuses. The legislation also requires hospitals that accept Medicaid and have emergency departments to gather information on the immigration status of their patients, even during emergency visits. They must also submit regular reports to the AHCA and the legislature regarding the expenses incurred while providing healthcare services to individuals without regulated immigration status. In addition, the law deems it a felony, carrying a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, to transport individuals without a regulated immigration status into Florida. This includes individuals accompanying you, such as friends, co-workers, or family members, even if you are a permanent resident of Florida. The law mandates companies with more than 25 workers to utilize E-verify for confirming job eligibility
Florida has a total of 4.3 million immigrants, which accounts for over 20% of its population. Among the immigrants, 2.48 million, or 57.4%, were born in different countries but identify themselves as Hispanic or Latina/o. More than 1 in 5 residents are immigrants and it saddens us to know that a vast majority of our neighbors will be harshly affected. These representatives only think of their personal wins. They do not think that our children will be the ones most affected. For a child, it is devastating to have one parent held in a deportation facility and another being detained and imprisoned for 15 years. The trauma to the child will last a lifetime. This is not the Florida we want. This is not the Florida that our families have worked to help build, and where they live and love- and now they are being targeted.
The state of Florida is one of the most diverse states in the country, encompassing diverse cultures, food, music, traditions, and beliefs. All of this is what makes Florida different from the rest of the states in this country. EVERYONE wants to visit Florida at least once in their lifetime and now our tourism will be affected by this awful law. Who will continue providing roofing work, cleaning services, food service in restaurants, landscaping, home and commercial construction, nursing care in our hospitals and nursing homes, and so much more? Who will harvest the crops we eat every day and that we depend upon for our sustenance? Most importantly, who will take care of and console the children who will be left behind because of the separation of their families? Passing such legislation to score political points is unconscionable!
The Farmworker Association of Florida stands with our communities. We will continue to fight for justice for farmworkers, for immigrants, and for the families who deserve our dignity and respect! We are all one human family, and we stand united!