Florida Implements Strict Enforcement of Anti-Immigrant Law, SB 1718
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Florida – The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has issued a stern warning that it will “strictly enforce” the anti-immigrant law SB 1718, specifically targeting the non-recognition of driver’s licenses issued in other states to undocumented immigrants.
Dave Kerner, the executive director of FLHSMV, stated that the agency has posted a list of types of out-of-state driver’s licenses that are no longer valid in Florida under SB 1718 on their website since July-last year. The law, which came into effect on January 1, prohibits the issuance of a driver’s license to anyone who cannot provide proof of legal presence in the United States. It specifically addresses the issue of out-of-state licenses exclusively issued to undocumented immigrants, deeming them invalid in Florida.
Governor Ron DeSantis supported the strict enforcement and stated, “Someone who is in our country illegally and has violated our laws should not possess a government-issued ID that allows them to access state-funded services and other privileges granted to legal residents.”
The list published on FLHSMV’s website clearly states that licenses issued to undocumented immigrants in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont will no longer be considered valid in Florida.
For FLHSMV, the implementation of SB 1718 aligns with two primary objectives of the agency: “To improve national security and deter criminal activity.” Kerner added, “Florida will not provide incentives to undocumented immigrants, while reminding criminal cartels and planners illegally crossing our national border that Florida should not be their destination of choice.”
Colonel Gary Howze II of the Florida Highway Patrol emphasized the importance of enforcing the driver’s license provision. He stated, “By ensuring that the people we meet are who they say they are, we can confidently welcome them to enjoy everything that the state has to offer.”
However, the FLHSMV has also noted that the list of licenses not valid in Florida is subject to change through periodic updates. This is due to ongoing revisions of driver’s license issuance requirements in other states.
SB 1718 is considered one of the toughest anti-immigrant laws in the United States and was championed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is currently running in the Republican Party primaries for the 2024 presidential election. DeSantis has made the fight against irregular immigration a focal point of his electoral campaign.
The law has already faced legal challenges from civil organizations. In addition to invalidating out-of-state licenses for undocumented immigrants, it criminalizes the transportation of individuals to Florida who may have entered the country without federal inspection. The law also requires companies with more than 25 employees to use an official immigration status verification program, with penalties including fines and license revocation.
As SB 1718 goes into effect, Florida continues to demonstrate its commitment to staunchly tackling irregular immigration and maintaining national security. The future implications of this law on the state’s immigrant population, as well as any potential legal challenges, remain to be seen.