New Florida Law Mandates E-Verify for Employers, Raises Concerns Over Economic Impact

By FOCUS, a Leonine Business

On May 10, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new immigration law, SB 1718, which is considered one of the toughest measures taken by any state to deter immigrants without legal permission. The law touches on everything from employment to healthcare making it a felony to transport an undocumented person “knowingly and willfully” into the state, including relatives and acquaintances. NPR reports, critics express concerns over potential consequences for key industries and fear-based reactions within immigrant communities.

Notably, the law aims to curb the hiring of undocumented workers by requiring private employers with 25 or more employees to use the federal online database, E-Verify, to confirm the eligibility of new hires. E-Verify is a system that allows employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States by matching employee provided information against records available to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. This change is expected to have a significant impact on Florida’s agriculture, construction and hospitality sectors, where immigrants make up the majority of workers. The Florida Policy Institute estimates that without undocumented workers, these industries would lose 10 percent of their workforce, leading to a drop of $12.6 billion in Florida’s GDP in a single year.

Violating the new law could result in escalating penalties, including the suspension or revocation of all licenses to operate a business. With the threat of losing their ability to operate legally within the state, businesses across the state protested by closing their doors on June 1 in the “A Day Without Immigrants” demonstrations, reports WCTV.

Additionally, the law limits social services for undocumented immigrants, allocates millions of tax dollars to expend Governor DeSantis’ migrant relocation program, invalidates driver’s licenses issued to undocumented people by other states and requires hospitals that get Medicaid dollars to ask for a patient’s immigration status. NBC reports that many undocumented workers in the agriculture, construction and tourism industries have already left the state.

The law is set to go into effect in less than a month on July 1 and FOCUS will continue to monitor what impacts it will have on Florida’s workforce and economy.