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CHC heads speak out against Florida’s immigrant laws. Photo: Getty Images.

Florida condemned by Latino Democrats over DeSantis backed oppressive anti-immigrant laws

The CHC railed against the Florida legislature's new anti-immigrant initiatives — the harshest state immigration measures in over a decade.

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Florida’s longtime and outstanding reputation of inclusion and diversity acceptance has taken a hit. 

Latino Democrats came out against the Sunshine State’s proposed sweeping package of anti-immigrant measures considered to be the harshest measures against undocumented immigration in over a decade. 

Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chair Nanette Barragán and Vice Chair of Policy Darren Soto released a statement on Tuesday, April 11, railing against the state’s proposals. 

“The recent policies implemented by the Republican-led Florida Legislature demonstrate Governor (Ron) DeSantis’ preference for fearmongering, promoting racial profiling, and damaging Florida's economy, rather than supporting the state's Hispanic population in their time of need,” the statement said. 

The CHC also condemned the actions of the state’s Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. 

“It is also disappointing to see Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez turn her back on immigrants and support the elimination of in-state college tuition for undocumented students and DACA recipients despite once sponsoring the bill when she was in the Florida House,” the CHC said.

The CHC is one of many other organizations to come out against Florida’s measures, which includes faith leaders, civil rights groups, and chambers of commerce. 

The bills backed by the Republican Presidential hopeful would result in felony charges for sheltering, hiring and transporting undocumented immigrants as well as requiring hospitals to ask patients their immigration status and report to the state. 

DeSantis described the measures as a clapback to President Joe Biden’s “open borders agenda,” that he and other GOP leaders including Gov. Greg Abbott (TX) and former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, say, has resulted in an influx of border crossings from their southern neighbor — over 2.5 million in 2022. 

Other measures include invalidating out-of-state driver’s licenses issued to undocumented immigrants, preventing undocumented immigrants from being admitted to the bar in Florida, and directing the state Department of Law Enforcement to provide assistance to federal authorities in enforcing the U.S.’s — horrid — immigration laws.

The measures are the harshest on undocumented immigration since Arizona back in 2010, when it was the U.S.’s busiest corridor for migrants. At the time, the state passed a law that required law enforcement to ask people all who were stopped for proof of citizenship if they had any inkling they might be in the country illegally. 

The result was a state-record-high of 93,704 undocumented immigrants being deported from Arizona in the fiscal year 2010, according to data from Syracuse University gathered from Immigration and Customs Enforcement Removals and ICE Data from 2003 through June 2020. 

The state is the third-highest in the country for deportations behind Texas and California. 

Under the new bills, an individual faces a third-degree felony for knowingly transporting, concealing or harboring undocumented immigrants, punishable by up to five years in prison. 

Like many of the measures introduced by Florida, it opens a Pandora’s Box, as many have argued that it exposes almost anyone to criminal charges, such as a landlord who rents to undocumented parents with American children. 

It also gives law enforcement the racist task of determining who they might think is in the country illegally. 

The U.S. consistently instituting systemic hurdles — that immigrants have for decades overcome despite their efforts — only further slows down the path to economic growth, reduces the nation’s workforce, hurts small businesses, drives up inflation, and damages the country’s slowly decaying symbol of being a country for the same people they look to drive out. 

The measures would also effectively drive out the state’s main workforce responsible for the state’s agricultural sector; the tourism industry, and service workers employed in the state’s beach towns and DisneyWorld. 

The state’s business community has also come out against their governor as they understand the potential economic and fiscal consequences of such harsh legislation. 

The bills would impose new state penalties on employers who hire immigrants without work authorization. This is a state struggling — like many others across the U.S. — with a labor shortage and where the unemployment rate was 2.6% just this past February.

Despite the outcry, the sweeping package — introduced on the first day of the legislative session — is expected to pass as the GOP have supermajorities in both chambers. 

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