On July 1, a new anti-immigrant law called FL 1718 will take effect in Florida. This legislation introduces various provisions that aim to impose stricter regulations and restrictions regarding immigration-related matters within the state. FL 1718 encompasses changes to employment verification procedures, driver's licenses, professional licenses, coordination of immigration enforcement actions, and more. These measures reflect the state's approach to immigration policy and will have significant implications for individuals and institutions operating in Florida. Below is the summary of the key provisions of the new law:
- FL 1718 criminalizes the act of bringing undocumented individuals into Florida, categorizing it as "human smuggling" and a felony with up to 15 years of potential imprisonment. This applies to individuals who knowingly and willingly transport someone into Florida, including minors, knowing or having reasonable knowledge that they entered the United States unlawfully and have not been inspected by federal immigration authorities.
- Private employers with 25 or more employees are obligated to use E-Verify for all new employees and retain documentation provided for E-Verify, along with the official verification generated by E-Verify, for a minimum of three years.
- Employers found to have failed to use E-Verify three times within a 24-month period are subject to a fine of $1,000 per day, which continues until the employer provides evidence of rectifying the noncompliance. Noncompliance also serves as grounds for the suspension of all state business licenses until the noncompliance is resolved.
- It becomes a violation of state law for any person to knowingly employ a foreign national for employment if they are not authorized to work in the United States.
- The legislation also provides criminal penalties, including a $5,000 fine and a maximum of five years in prison, for individuals who knowingly use false identification documents or fraudulently use someone else's identification document to obtain employment, if they are not authorized to work.
- Driver's licenses issued by other states to "undocumented immigrants unable to prove lawful presence" at the time of issuance are considered invalid in Florida. If a person is found driving with such a license, law enforcement officers are required to issue a citation. FL DMV is obligated to maintain a list on its website, indicating which out-of-state driver's license classes are not recognized in Florida. Currently, there are 19 states that issue driver's licenses under these circumstances.
- FL 1718 grants the state authority to participate in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. It empowers the Chief of Domestic Security in Florida, a role established to oversee anti-terrorism efforts after 9/11, to coordinate "immigration enforcement actions" in collaboration with the federal government.
- FL 1718 mandates that hospitals gather information regarding immigration status from patients. It requires hospitals that accept Medicaid to inquire about the patient's status as a U.S. citizen, lawful resident, or an individual not lawfully present in the United States during the admission/registration process.