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Florida Farmworkers Apprehensive About New Immigration Legislation

Farmers and growers are also worried about a new state law that will require businesses with over 25 employees to verify their workers' legal employment status.

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MIAMI, FL – Florida’s new immigration law, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, has sparked fear and uncertainty among immigrant workers and employers in the state. The law, set to take effect in July, includes requirements for businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to check employees’ work authorization. It also invalidates driver’s licenses issued in other states to undocumented drivers and restricts local governments from funding organizations that issue identification cards to immigrants without legal status. Additionally, hospitals accepting Medicaid will be required to include a citizenship question on forms, potentially discouraging immigrants from seeking medical care.

For many agricultural workers in Homestead and Immokalee, the law threatens their livelihoods. Most workers in these areas are year-round residents, with many lacking legal immigration status. The law’s impact extends beyond workers to employers who depend on immigrant labor. Immigrant workers, particularly those without legal documentation, are considering leaving the state due to the anticipated changes.

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Immigrant advocates and religious leaders have been holding meetings and providing support to address the concerns and questions raised by the new law. The fear and uncertainty surrounding the law have prompted efforts to provide legal advice, pastoral care, and reassurance to affected individuals and communities.

Governor DeSantis, who has taken a hard-line stance on immigration, signed the bill as Title 42, a policy allowing for the quick expulsion of migrants at the southern border, was lifted. The law aligns with DeSantis’ position on immigration, appealing to conservative voters as he prepares to announce his presidential candidacy.

While some Latino Republican legislators supported the law, expressing concerns about human trafficking and unauthorized identification cards, there are also voices advocating for its reconsideration. The law has already impacted the availability of farmworkers, with some struggling to find workers to harvest crops. However, other growers remain optimistic, emphasizing the importance of immigrant labor to Florida’s economy and expressing hope that the law won’t bring significant changes.

Overall, the new immigration law in Florida has created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty among immigrant workers and employers, with many considering leaving the state and seeking reassurance and legal advice from advocacy groups and religious organizations.

 

 

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