TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Protesters took to the streets in Tampa and across the state Thursday with a pivotal point in Florida’s history looming on the horizon.
It’s a sweeping immigration law that takes effect in two weeks.
SB 1718 doubles down on Florida’s employment laws, but it’s also sending a message to Washington about federal immigration policies.
The legislation is prompting more protests about how it will impact Florida’s economy.
The new law tightens employment mandates that determine if employees can legally work in the U.S.
Some are worried that entry-level jobs will go unfilled, and Florida’s economy will suffer because of it.
“Florida’s economy depends on undocumented workers that work in agriculture, work in the service industries, and work in construction,” said David Cantillo.
Others who support the law agree the state will face some setbacks, but it will ultimately create fairness in the business sector.
“Those who hire people illegally are at an advantage against those who are following the rule of law,” said Jonathan Torres. “So, from a business perspective that creates a lot of inequity.”
There’s another issue at stake under the new law, those who knowingly transport an immigrant into Florida could be charged with a felony for human smuggling.
However, the law also adds $12 million to the state’s relocation program.
The relocation program recently gained more national attention when migrants were taken to California earlier this month and Martha’s Vineyard last year.
Some people believe the move is part of a plan to surprise Democratic strongholds with large influxes of migrants while providing little to no information.
“The governor and legislature say it’s ok for us to send undocumented migrants to other states, but if you do it to our state it’s going to be a felony,” said Cantillo. “That’s hypocritical, that’s wrong.”
Now it’s just a matter of time to see how this new legislation will shape Florida’s future.
“Hopefully this puts pressure on the federal government to do something about it because no one is going to win,” said Torres.