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How Florida immigration law impacts out-of-state driver's licenses

Starting July 1, a new Florida law will create more restrictions for undocumented migrants.
How Florida immigration law impacts out-of-state driver's licenses
Posted at 5:19 PM, May 26, 2023

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new law this month tightening restrictions on undocumented migrants. Some of those restrictions include invalidating driver's licenses and identification cards issued by other states.

"About 60% of tourism into Florida is actually from driving," said Felipe Sousa Lazaballet with the Hope Community Center in Orlando. "So, a lot of these folks who are coming into the state to spend money here are not going to be able to do it anymore or risk a felony."

On July 1, a new Florida law will create more restrictions for undocumented migrants.

One of the major effects of this new law will be requiring employers of 25 or more employees to verify workers' citizenship status.

The law also prohibits issuing driver's licenses in Florida to people who are undocumented, and invalidates out of state drivers' licenses for anyone who is undocumented while in Florida.

The law can also result in a third-degree felony charge for someone who transports a person without legal status into the state.

"This is a huge problem. Obviously, this is going to disproportionately impact folks that do that for a living," said Lazaballet. "Folks that drive trucks and even people who drive ambulances for example. We are talking about a law with such a huge scale that would be to the detriment to Floridians and everyone in the country."

SEE MORE: Floridians worry for labor effects of new undocumented migrant law

Samuel Vilchez Santiago with the American Business Immigration Coalition said this new law could affect tourism and commercial trucking that comes into Florida.

"The long-term effect is that people are not going to want to come to Florida," Santiago said. "That's very concerning for our economy. That's going to create an issue not only for Florida but all across the country with all these trucking companies having to figure out who can they send to Florida, who could they not send to Florida and whether or not that person can continue doing the job they are doing somewhere else."

Supporters of the law said it's needed because it will combat what they view as a significant problem with illegal immigration.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

There are currently 19 states in the country that allow undocumented adults to obtain a driver's license, arguing that roads are safer when drivers are tested, and fewer uninsured people will be behind the wheel.

Thomas Kennedy with the Florida Immigration Coalition is afraid the new Florida law could open doors for other states.

"Kansas just passed a similar law that is stricter," Kennedy said. "The Kansas law says it's a felony for having an undocumented person in your home or car inside the state of Kansas. So, this is going to impact mixed status families with different immigration status."

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