TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Requiring all businesses to check their employee’s immigration status through the federal E-verify system is a top priority of Governor Ron DeSantis.
E-verify legislation passed through its second Senate committee Tuesday morning, but the bill sponsor said much more work is needed.
The legislation continues to morph as it moves through the Senate. An exemption for the agriculture industry was added and then removed.
Now an option for employers to use an alternative immigration check has been added.
“This essentially is taking us back to the honor system,” said Senate sponsor Tom Lee.
In its second committee stop, supporters made a case for public safety.
“Illegal aliens on average murder 428 people in Florida every year,” said Robert Windham with Floridians For E-Verify Now.
And opponents warned of economic impacts.
“This measure if passed, would significantly add to Floridian’s food bills,” said Kathy Bird Carvajal with the American Business Immigration Coalition.
Senator Lee said it comes down ensuring businesses don’t take advantage of illegal workers.
“Just for cheap labor, just to make a buck to stick in their pocket and you know it’s just not okay,” said Lee.
Under the bill, all businesses would have to begin checking all new hires’ immigration status by July 1, 2022.
The bill still has one more committee stop in the Senate.
Lee said serious changes need to be made before it passes, specifically he said allowing businesses to use an alternative immigration check kills the intent of the bill.
“You know we’ve got like I said a lot of cooks in the kitchen and some of them are not coming out of the closet to talk on the record about it,” said Lee.
And if it stays, he doesn’t see a path forward with the Governor.
“I think he’d veto it and I’d tell him to veto it,” said Lee.
If Lee is successful the House would likely also pass the legislation, as it has done in years past.