On Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced an extensive legislative proposal to take action against the increasing threats posed by illegal immigration as a result of the Biden administration’s failure to secure our nation’s borders. By increasing penalties for human smuggling, strengthening statutes for the detention of illegal aliens, requiring universal use of E-Verify, enhancing penalties for document falsification, and prohibiting the issuance by local governments of ID cards to people who are not lawfully in the country, Florida will lead the way in protecting Americans from the deleterious effects of the Left’s open borders agenda.
“With this legislation, Florida is continuing to crack down on the smuggling of illegal aliens, stopping municipalities from issuing ID cards to people here illegally, and ensuring that employers are hiring American citizens or those here legally,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Florida is a law and order state, and we won’t turn a blind eye to the dangers of Biden’s Border Crisis. We will continue to take steps to protect Floridians from reckless federal open border policies.”
“Human smuggling, drug trafficking, and a host of other criminal activities are steadily spilling across the Southern Border and into our state, as bad actors seek to exploit the hard-earned wealth and hard-won freedoms of our citizens for criminal gain,” said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass. “In tandem with our continued vigilance and cooperation with our law enforcement partners across the state, the initiatives championed today by Governor DeSantis will help to keep Floridians safer than ever, protecting our citizens from malefactors who are illegally in our state and removing them from our communities altogether.”
The legislation also invalidates all out-of-state licenses to unauthorized aliens, requires those registering to vote to affirm they are United States citizens and legal residents of Florida, prevents unauthorized immigrants from being admitted to practice law, and eliminates out-of-state tuition fee waivers for undocumented immigrant students. Additionally, the proposal requires hospitals to collect data on the immigration status of patients and the costs to provide care to illegal aliens and regularly report the data to the Governor and Legislature. As directed by Executive Order 21-223, this data was collected and during the 2021-22 Fiscal Year health care costs for illegal aliens in Florida was nearly $340 million and taxpayers were on the hook for more than two-thirds of this cost. More information on this data can be found here.
The increased penalties for human smuggling follow the recommendations of the grand jury impaneled by the Florida Supreme Court at Governor DeSantis’ request and will:
- Make it a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and five years of probation, to knowingly transport, conceal, or harbor an illegal alien within or into the state;
- Make it a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000, if the illegal alien is younger than 18 years old; and
- Specify that a person commits a separate offense for each individual transported, concealed, or harbored and allow transported individuals to be detained by law enforcement as material witnesses.
These measures build upon Governor DeSantis’ previous actions to keep Floridians safe in the face of an unprecedently unsecure federal border policy, which include:
- Sending Florida state law enforcement officers and equipment to Texas where they apprehended thousands of illegal aliens and aided in hundreds of criminal arrests for felonies including human trafficking and drug smuggling;
- Issuing an executive order that prohibits Florida state agencies from providing support for the resettlement of illegal aliens in Florida and prohibits licensing of facilities that house unaccompanied minors;
- Signing legislation that prohibits government contracts with private entities that assist the Biden administration in resettling illegal immigrants into Florida;
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- Signing legislation that requires all public employers, contractors, and subcontractors attempting to enter into contracts with public employers to use E-Verify to determine employment eligibility;
- Suing the Biden administration over its unlawful “catch and release” policy and speaking out when the administration announced plans to end Title 42, ludicrously claiming that pandemic restrictions and “emergency measures” were still required domestically while attempting to do away with the pandemic measures at the border;
- Forming a strike force of state and local law enforcement to interdict human smuggling and human trafficking and to seize illegal weapons being transported through the state, resulting thus far in 200 felony charges, nearly 40 human smuggling charges, and 66 drug charges and the seizure of more than half a million dollars of illicit drugs;
- Successfully petitioning the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a statewide grand jury to examine international human smuggling networks that bring aliens to the southern border and ultimately to Florida;
- Securing $12 million to facilitate the transport of illegal aliens to Martha’s Vineyard and other sanctuary states, bringing the border crisis to the communities that support Biden’s open border policies; and
- Issuing an executive order to mobilize state law enforcement and National Guard resources to aid in the interdiction of more than 2,000 migrants attempting to land on Florida’s shores.
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