(CNN) — One of the most prominent Latino advocacy groups in the United States is urging people to avoid traveling to Florida in light of new immigration laws that take effect in July.
Ahead of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ long-awaited presidential bid announcement, he signed legislation last week requiring employers with more than 25 employees to verify their immigration status through a federal database called E-Verify. Employers who do not comply with the law will be fined US$1,000 per day until they can prove their workers have the necessary documents.
Additionally, the law invalidates out-of-state identification cards such as driver’s licenses issued to undocumented immigrants and prevents Florida-based agencies from issuing new cards. This will prevent illegal immigrants from driving in the state. People who transport undocumented immigrants living in the United States face hefty fines and possible jail time.
The immigration bill is one of several controversial bills DeSantis has signed recently as he prepares to face former President Donald Trump and others in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
Domingo Garcia, president of the Latino advocacy group United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), called the new immigration law “hostile and dangerous.”
“As a result, for the second time in LULAC’s history, we are issuing a travel advisory for anyone traveling to Florida,” Garcia said at a news conference Wednesday. LULAC was founded 94 years ago as a civil rights organization dedicated to promoting opportunities for Hispanic Americans.
DeSantis said the legislation is important to “combat the federal government’s reckless policies and ensure Florida taxpayers are not footing the bill for illegal immigration,” according to a statement he signed into law earlier this month.
Francisco Maldonado, a farmer who lives in Homestead, Florida, says he’s not personally concerned about the new law because he employs fewer than 25 people. But he worries that undocumented workers who stay in the state will be deported.
Farmers employing more than 25 workers are afraid. “They don’t know what they’re going to do, they’re going to lose part of the farm,” he told CNN.
Many neighboring farms have already lost workers in anticipation of the law, he said. So far none of his workers have fled.
“Laws like this, which do nothing but persecute immigrants, are bad for a state’s economy,” Lydia Guzman, president of LULAC’s immigration commission, said Wednesday.
Echoing those sentiments, Maldonado said “immigrant workers are the engine of Florida’s economy” and the new law “really hits the communities that drive this economy.”