TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s toughest immigration crackdown to date takes effect on Saturday.
Critics of SB1718 say the impacts are being felt as undocumented migrants and their families flee the state ahead of its implementation.
The long list of provisions includes cutting social services for undocumented immigrants, another $12 million in tax money for the state’s controversial migrant relocation program, and harsher penalties for knowingly transporting or hiring those without proper paperwork.
“I think it’s a damn shame,” Thomas Kennedy, a former undocumented immigrant said. “We’ve already been seeing for over a month now, the economic and societal impacts of this law. The fact that immigrants and their families are leaving the state.”
It’s caused concern not only for undocumented immigrants, but also business owners who worry those departures will result in a weakened workforce.
“Florida should be ashamed of itself for passing one of the worst immigration laws in the entire country,” Jeannie Economos with Farmworker Association of Florida said.
Organizations like the Farmworkers Association of Florida say their phones have been ringing off the hook– even before the new law’s effective date.
“The farm workers in our communities are very afraid and very confused and concerned,” Economos added.
Republicans have touted the departures as evidence the bill is working.
“We are doing what we can as a state level in order to sort of help the immigrants and at the same time push back on the federal government because they are just absolutely inept,” said State Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, who sponsored SB 1718.
Across Florida, organizations are planning to push back against the law, whether that’s protesting on Saturday or in front of the courthouse in the future.