The Republican-controlled Florida Senate recently approved an immigration proposal that could have a major impact on certain immigrants living in the state. The proposal aims to boost enforcement of immigration laws and has been prioritized by Gov. Ron Desantis. If the proposal becomes law, some undocumented immigrants who are lawfully present in Florida could be at risk of deportation. A Miami immigration lawyer at Pozo Goldstein, LLP can help you to understand this law and defend against any deportation proceedings.
What the Bill Would Do
The immigration enforcement proposal would target transportation companies that transport undocumented immigrants into Florida. It would also expand a law from 2019 that tried to ban sanctuary cities. That prior law was blocked by a federal judge in Sept. 2021 who ruled that key portions were unconstitutional.
The DeSantis administration is already trying to close shelters for unaccompanied children who are currently having their statuses as refugees and immigrants processed after entering the U.S. The Office of Refugee Resettlement has placed the children in the shelters.
The law could result in many people who are lawfully present in the U.S. and waiting for their asylum applications to be processed or who are present with tourist visas being at risk of deportation.
Arguments for and Against the Bill
The bill is hotly contested in the Florida Legislature. The sponsor for the bill in the Florida Senate, Rep. Sen. Aaron Bean, argued that the bill is meant to send a message to Congress and President Biden that action is needed on immigration.
Democrats have argued that the “ghost flights” the Republicans have claimed to happen are not real. They point out that both Democratic and Republican administrations have had policies to authorize transporting migrants from the border to other states while they are waiting for their refugee or immigration statuses to be processed. Several Democrats have argued that the bill is political fiction and is using immigrants as political pawns.
Democrats have also argued that thousands of migrants in Florida who entered lawfully on temporary visas that have since expired and those who have pending asylum applications could be threatened by the bill. Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo pointed out that people can be lawfully admitted to the U.S. and have lawful statuses but still be considered to be unauthorized aliens. She argued that many different categories of immigrants, including trafficking victims, unaccompanied minors, and people present with tourist visas could all be at risk of deportation.
Republicans argue that they have included the definitions of lawful and unlawful in the bill as they are stated in the federal statute. Gov. DeSantis spoke glowingly about the proposed bill when he appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month in Orlando. He claimed that President Biden has been “dumping” undocumented immigrants in Florida and claimed that this bill would allow him to reroute them to other states and areas controlled by Democrats.
Reaction Among Minorities and Faith-Based Groups
While Republicans and Gov. Desantis have praised the proposed bill, many minority and faith-based groups oppose it. Several organizations that represent the Venezuelan-American community in Florida sent a letter to the Florida Legislature arguing against the bill and stating that thousands of people who have lawful authorization to work would be at risk of deportation. The organizations stated that they view the bill as directly attacking the Venezuelan community in Florida and pointed out that many Venezuelans who have temporary protected status have had their work permits delayed because of a backlog at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The bill would include them as unauthorized aliens because of the delay in processing their work permits.
The co-founder of the American Business Immigration Coalition also decried the bill. He stated that the bill would harm employers that are facing large worker shortages and unaccompanied children who are receiving care from faith institutions.
Speak to our Immigration Lawyers Miami
If you are an immigrant who lawfully entered the U.S. and are waiting for your immigration or refugee status to be processed in Florida, you should reach out to the experienced immigration lawyers in Miami at Pozo Goldstein. Our firm includes a former judge and two former immigration prosecutors. Call us today if you need help with immigration issues at (305) 856-0400.