tags: Press Releases

Florida Legislature Advances Harmful Anti-Immigrant Bill to Help DeSantis and Hurt Florida

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Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Florida state legislature moved forward ugly anti-immigrant legislation that seems more designed to burnish Ron DeSantis’ anti-immigrant bona fides ahead of a potential primary fight than to advance the needs or interests of Florida’s economic and community success.

As the Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board put it, “Floridians will look back on biased laws with shame,” noting:

“There will come a day when these cruel, cynical and blatantly unconstitutional actions will be regarded as a shameful episode in Florida’s history. That time can’t come soon enough.”

Following the passage of SB 1718, advocates and experts from the Southern Poverty Law Center and Florida Immigrant Coalition continued to define the harms of this legislation.

Tessa Petit, Executive Director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said:

“This legislation seeks to create a false border between Florida and the rest of the United States. It is meant to criminalize folks still going through the complicated immigration process and their families, and friends for visiting the state. It will limit access to our renowned healthcare providers for those seeking lifesaving cancer or cardiovascular care. Its only purpose and result will be to increase the intentional divide in our communities. It is not meant to provide the protection they claim, and will not provide a solution to the broken federal immigration system.”

Jonathan Webber, Florida Policy Director for the SPLC Action Fund, said

“All Floridians — regardless of origin — want the same thing: health, prosperity and safety. This bill undermines our values by sowing suspicion between neighbors, attacking workers and businesses during a labor shortage, and forcing productive members of society back into the shadows. Undocumented people are more than a political punching bag — they are our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. We urge Gov. DeSantis to veto this legislation as soon as possible.”

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:

“Seeing so many lawmakers in Florida line up behind this ugly and harmful vision to help  Governor DeSantis run for higher office is disturbing and counterproductive. Their priority seems more about MAGA extremism and political positioning than the future interests and needs of Florida. The race for candidates to outdo each other as champions against immigrants and against immigration is a race to the bottom. It’s especially troubling to see Florida, a state defined by its proud history of immigrants and refugees driving the state’s identity and economy – and with a proud bipartisan heritage of pro-immigrant policies – is turning its back on immigrant communities and turning the clock to a darker era of division.”

Additional Resources and Background

  • Read America’s Voice editor Gabe Ortiz, ‘Do You Work For Your Community, Or Ron DeSantis?’ 
  • Last week, FLIC and SPLC were among the state experts and advocates speaking out against the bill on a press call organized by America’s Voice (find details and recording here)

Find more details about Ron DeSantis’s anti-immigrant views in the recent AV backgrounder, “Ron DeSantis Imagines a United States Without Immigration.”