A leading Hispanic civil rights group warned immigrants on Wednesday not to travel to Florida, and vowed legal action against the state in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) ongoing immigration crackdown.
During a livestreamed press conference on Facebook, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) issued a travel advisory warning immigrants and their families to avoid traveling to the state of Florida due to the potential threat it poses to them.
“Florida is a dangerous, hostile environment for law-abiding Americans and immigrants.” LULAC President Domingo Garcia said.
“If you bring your tía (aunt) to Disney World ... to Miami or Universal Studios, they are going to charge you with a felony for bringing your undocumented friend or relative to Florida,” Garcia said.
The warning comes after DeSantis signed Bill 1718 into law earlier this month. The new rule, which will take effect in July, intends to stop the flow of illegal immigrants by enacting stricter employment requirements and harsher punishments against those who smuggle them into the state. It also allocates $12 million for the transport of migrants to other states.
The measure mandates that businesses with 25 or more workers utilize the federal E-Verify system to determine whether or not a potential employee is legally able to work in the United States.
The legislation is already having an impact on local businesses in the state, with some company owners saying that long-term workers are quitting their jobs and leaving the state, WPBF reported.
LULAC said it is taking “unprecedented action” in Florida in response to the law and will not tolerate “acts of fear-mongering, scapegoating and immoral policies hurting Latinos that divide Americans for political gain.”
DeSantis, who is planning a presidential bid in 2024, is among the Republicans who have chastised President Joe Biden over his immigration policies.
Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that made it easier to expel migrants, expired last week, which DeSantis said could worsen the already exploding flood of illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. Border crossings have dropped by half since the expiry, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN on Sunday.
The new Florida law also “opens the door to anyone that looks like me to be stopped and questioned if (they) have the authorization to be in this country,” Lydia Guzman, LULAC’s immigration committee chair, said. “And that is racial profiling, that is the violation of our civil rights.”
Guzman said the bill is meant to “harass immigrants” and is similar to Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, which authorized police to demand papers from whomever they suspected were illegal immigrants.
Guzman added that the law negatively impacted Arizona’s economy and tourism, and it might do the same to Florida. LULAC issued a similar travel warning for Arizona in 2010.
The Florida legislation also imposes additional limitations, such as requiring hospitals that take Medicaid to ask patients about their citizenship status and ending the state’s acceptance of out-of-state driver’s licenses and permits for illegal immigrants.
“Migrants will forgo seeking medical attention,” Guzman said. “As that happens, people may die.”