tags: Press Releases

Ron DeSantis’ Self-Defeating Immigration Policies are Harming Florida’s Disaster Recovery and Weakening Its Economy

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Washington, DC – In the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, recovery efforts in Florida face complications not just from the storm’s severity, but also due to Ron DeSantis’ signature anti-immigrant legislation. As we noted when SB 1718 went into effect, the law is both cruel and costly to the state, causing essential workers in key sectors of Florida’s economy to flee and now hampering the state’s post-hurricane recovery efforts.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice: 

“Ron DeSantis is putting ugly GOP primary politics and MAGA nativism ahead of the needs of his state, its economy, its disaster recovery, and its tradition as a welcoming state. Critical hurricane recovery efforts in Florida are now affected, after the law has already harmed key sectors of the state’s economy and reputation.” 

The harms and costs of the DeSantis anti-immigrant bill – including on hurricane recovery – has been in the news this week:

New York Times, “DeSantis’s Immigration Law May Affect Hurricane Cleanup in Florida”:

“Though it is impossible to know for certain how many undocumented immigrants are staying away, more than half of 1,000 who were informally polled this summer by Resilience Force, a nonprofit group that organizes disaster recovery workers and offers them safety training, said they did not plan to return to Florida this hurricane season because of the law.

‘Floridians will need thousands of skilled disaster recovery workers to rebuild their homes after Idalia, but they may not get them,’ said Saket Soni, executive director of Resilience Force. ‘These workers are overwhelmingly immigrants,’ he said.”

CNN, “Some workers who rebuild homes after hurricanes are afraid to go to Florida. They blame a law DeSantis championed”:

“Immigrant workers from across the US raced to Florida to help rebuild after Hurricane Ian devastated the region.

But now, nearly a year later and days after another major hurricane hit, some of those workers say this time they’re staying home.

Saket Soni, whose nonprofit Resilience Force advocates for thousands of disaster response workers, says there’s one clear reason behind the shift: Florida’s new immigration law, which Gov. Ron DeSantis has championed.

In a survey Resilience Force conducted over several months this summer, Soni says more than half of the nonprofit organization’s roughly 2,000 members said they would not travel to Florida to help with hurricane recovery efforts because of the law. And in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, he says, many remain concerned.

‘They felt very fearful,’ says Soni, the organization’s executive director. ‘No amount of money would be worth it if it meant they would be incarcerated or deported.’”

In “Florida’s new immigration law isn’t just cruel. It’s an awakening to our hypocrisy,” the Miami Herald editorial board assessed the larger implications of the DeSantis immigration law:

“Florida’s new hardline immigration law, which went in-to effect on July 1, was an unprecedented effort to crack down on the hiring of undocumented immigrants. As the Herald reported this week, the law could worsen an existing labor shortage in the state’s agriculture sector, which relies heavily on migrant labor.

… Florida needs migrant workers, many of whom are in the country illegally. This is the uncomfortable truth that Florida’s new law has exposed. The state and the country rely on cheap migrant labor to sustain our way of life. Without comprehensive reform, cracking down on immigrants looking for work and the massive economic engine that employs them makes Florida look tough, but it’s no real solution.”