tags: , , , Blog

Deconstructing Florida, Headlines Say It All: “Contractors Face Uncertainty,” “Already Leading To Worker Shortages,” “Signs of Migrant Flight Grow”

Share This:

If Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s message at his expected 2024 presidential campaign announcement next week is that he’ll run the nation the way he’s run his state, that should be some major cause for worry. Just look at some of the local and national headlines that have continued on through this week in response to his new anti-immigrant S.B. 1718 policy.

Ron DeSantis’s immigration law is already leading to worker shortages,” Vox reported on Wednesday. “The videos from Florida aren’t hard to find: Dozens of clips of empty fields, abandoned construction sites, and scores of truck drivers calling for boycotts of the state have racked up hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok and Twitter over the last month.” And, DeSantis has made it pretty clear he wants to see his policy being xeroxed across the 50 states much like his bigoted “Don’t Say Gay” law.  

“DeSantis has called it an ‘honor to usher [S.B. 1718] through the process’ and said it should serve ‘as the model for the nation to combat this crisis created by our very own President,’” the report continued.

“Contractors face uncertainty over new Florida immigration law,” Construction Dive, a top construction and building industry news site, reported on Thursday. We previously noted that while DeSantis had sought to impose E-Verify on all Florida businesses, state Republicans passed looser restrictions after getting pushback from the business world. But the harm’s been done, with viral videos showing worksites reportedly devoid of workers on a weekday.  

“Anecdotally, things have already gotten tougher in Florida in the last week,” University of North Florida labor economist and professor Madelin Zavodny said in the report. “There’s a lot of fear among the unauthorized immigrant population about what the law means for them, and I’m sure their employers are getting nervous as well.”

“Signs of migrant flight grow ahead of new Florida immigration law,” read another headline from South Florida Sun Sentinel on Friday. The outlet reported that some immigrant workers were moving their entire families from Florida to friendlier states.

“Many people who work in construction and hospitality are taking whole families to states such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and North and South Carolina,” South Florida Sun Sentinel said. “They just feel they will be safer outside of Florida,” immigration attorney Renata Castro said in the report. Castro told the outlet that her office has received more calls in the past couple days than it usually does in a whole month.

“It will be interesting to see how this unfolds in Ron DeSantis’s base — all groups that have relied on undocumented labor,” she continued. Fact check: true. The food at our grocery stores and on our kitchen table is thanks to immigrant labor, and that’s just as true for DeSantis and his base as it is for anyone else. Which brings us to this next headline.

“In Florida, agricultural workers are fearful and brace for changes under new immigration law,” NBC News reported on Thursday. One of these farmworkers is a Salvadoran laborer who wished to stay anonymous for her own protection. She told NBC that she’d like to stay in Florida, “but the work situation is going to become very demanding.” Elvira Cepeda, a farmer in Homestead, said she was already having trouble finding workers in the days after S.B. 1718’s signing.

“South Florida’s economy here in Homestead is agriculture,” she said in the report. “Most of them we know are undocumented. Who’s going to harvest?” DeSantis might want to think about bringing back those 800 Florida National Guard members he sent to Texas as part of an anti-immigrant stunt and have them get to picking since he’s running all the workers out of the state.

But all snarkiness aside, the fear is real. This week the Latino civil rights organization LULAC also issued a travel advisory warning Latinos about traveling to the state, calling S.B. 1718 “cruel” and cautioning that families could be prosecuted and treated “like criminals” for taking an “Abuelita or Tia” to a theme park. LULAC said families could now be racially profiled under a provision criminalizing a driver for transporting an undocumented person into the state, even if they’re a loved one.

“Florida is a dangerous, hostile environment for law-abiding Americans and immigrants.” President Domingo Garcia said. “If you bring your tía … to Disney World … to Miami or Universal Studios, they are going to charge you with a felony for bringing your undocumented friend or relative to Florida.” The group also pointed to Arizona’s economically and legally disastrous S.B. 1070, which resulted in more than $140 million in losses in just the first couple months after passage. Major provisions of the law would eventually be struck down in court.

The advisory is the third such warning to hit the state since April. Travel advisories from LGBTQ group Florida Equality and Florida Immigrant Coalition, a statewide immigrant rights coalition of 65 member organizations and over 100 allies, came following passage of the state’s discriminatory “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the introduction of S.B. 1718. The NAACP Florida State Conference, meanwhile, voted unanimously in favor of asking its national board of directors for a similar travel advisory.