TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — The long-promised immigration bill popped up over halfway into session but lawmakers are working to get it across the finish line.

The policy has faced several significant changes and some lawmakers say this is a watered-down version of the governor’s proposal last February.

The bill punishes those who knowingly transport or hire undocumented migrants in the state.
It also strengthens E-verify requirements for businesses with over 25 employees.

Immigration reform was on the top of the list for Gov. Ron DeSantis this session and the bill soon to be headed to his desk is not full of his wishes.

It doesn’t strip dreamers of in-state tuition and some provisions don’t go as far as they could.

But State Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, who is backing the bill, says Florida is still forcing the federal government to act.

“Until the states push back, which is what we’re doing now – the federal government will never act – we’re trying to force them into acting,” Ingoglia said.

Despite significant changes to the bill, Democrats still don’t like it.

“There’s no one here saying that we shouldn’t do anything on immigration, but it’s comprehensive immigration reform that we need to be working on. What we’re doing right now is inhumane. It’s inhumane the direction the state of Florida is moving in,” said State Sen. Shevrin Jones.

The legislation also sets aside more money for the state’s migrant relocation program.

Last year, money from the program was used to fly about 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

State Sen. Jason Pizzo took the governor to court for it and still calls it a bad idea.

“The state of Florida’s not good in the immigration business or travel businesses,” Pizzo said.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill Friday, but it still has to make a stop in the House before making it to the governor’s desk.