Immigration, LAWYERING, Q&A

April 28, 2023

Florida Senate Bill 1718: third degree felony for transporting undocumented workers

The Florida legislature has been debating Senate Bill 1718 and contemplating criminal repercussions for persons who “knowingly and willfully violate, or who reasonably should know and who violate, certain provisions relating to the transporting into or within [Florida]” of undocumented aliens. The new bill makes such conduct a third degree felony, up to five years incarceration, and a possible fine up to $5,000. It expands the definition to create a second degree felony if there are more than five people transported for a penalty of up to fifteen years incarceration, and a possible fine up to $10,000.

The proposed bill introduces a new second degree misdemeanor offense for individuals who are found driving with an out-of-state license that has been rendered invalid under the bill. Specifically, the bill seeks to nullify driver’s licenses issued by other states solely for undocumented immigrants who cannot establish lawful presence in the United States at the time of issuance, rendering them invalid on Florida roads and prohibiting their use for operating a motor vehicle in Florida.

Another add-on for hospitals is to require hospitals who accept Medicaid to inquire about a patient whether the patient is a United States citizen, is lawfully present in the United States, or is not lawfully present in the United States, and compile and report the data to the Florida government.

The bill prohibits any “unauthorized immigrant” admission to the Florida Bar, and also mandates DNA sampling from any “qualifying offender” who is also subject to an immigration detainer.

Although the bill has not been passed by the Florida legislature, it appears to establish distinct categories of individuals in Florida that could potentially disrupt the daily services and economic activities enjoyed by the general public.

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