Florida now has one of the strictest immigration laws in the nation, after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1718 into law on May 10.
The law toughens requirements on businesses for verifying their employees have legal status, requires some hospitals to ask about immigration status on intake forms, and invalidates some out-of-state drivers licenses issued to undocumented immigrants, among other provisions.
The intensified scrutiny on immigration has caused many Floridians to fear what might soon happen to them and their families, when the law takes effect on July 1.
In one viral video, a woman says she’s afraid the law will make it a felony for her to live with her parents, who are undocumented. She says she’s a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows children brought to the U.S. illegally to avoid deportation and obtain work permits. DACA requires renewal every two years, and applicants who have felonies on their record will be rejected.
Has Florida made it a felony to live with someone who’s undocumented?
- Florida Senate Bill 1718, full text as signed into law
- Florida Senate Bill 1718, full text as initially proposed
- Natalie McEwan, immigration lawyer at Ogletree Deakins, a Florida firm
- Catholic Legal Immigration Network
No, Florida has not made it a felony to live with someone who’s undocumented.
WHAT WE FOUND
Florida Senate Bill 1718 was first introduced on March 7, by state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill).
The initial text contained a provision saying that any person who “conceals, harbors, or shields from detection” an immigrant in the United States illegally will be committing a third-degree felony in the state.
It also made it a crime to transport such people “into or within this state.”
These provisions prompted fears that simply living or driving with undocumented family members would become a crime, although federal laws against harboring already exist and are not enforced in this way.
Any debate about the potential impact of that section was rendered moot, however, when it was removed from the bill.
The text of the law signed by the governor only makes it a crime to transport people in the U.S. illegally into Florida. It does not say driving them around within the state is a felony, and does not say living with them is a crime either.
“While the bill had initially proposed attaching criminal penalties to the transport of undocumented immigrants into or within Florida, the approved measure will apply only to the transport of undocumented immigrants across state lines into Florida,” wrote immigration attorney Natalie McEwan.