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TALLAHASSEE, FL Florida lawmakers made changes to a proposed immigration bill that would no longer make it a felony to transport individuals without legal status within the state. Religious leaders had raised concerns that the initial language of the bill would have exposed them to felony charges if they transported undocumented individuals to church or Sunday school. The revised bill expands human-smuggling penalties for transporting five or more people without legal status into Florida, outside of the state, or if the defendant has a prior human-smuggling conviction.
The bill, which is a top priority for Gov. Ron DeSantis, also requires businesses with 25 or more employees to verify immigration status through E-Verify and prohibits undocumented immigrants from practicing law in Florida. It also requires hospitals accepting Medicaid to ask patients for their immigration status and report the amount spent on medical care for undocumented individuals to the state. Programs that issue community IDs and out-of-state driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants would be cut, and funds would be allocated to expand the “Unauthorized Alien Transport Program” to fly migrants out of the state. The bill has drawn opposition from those who say it will hurt undocumented families and the state’s immigrant-powered economy.