David Simmons wants state to offer work permits, driver’s licenses, to undocumented

David Simmons
'These individuals,' Simmons said, are entitled to dignity and due process.

Florida should allow law-abiding undocumented residents to receive work permits and driver’s licenses so that they may sustain themselves and families with dignity and respect, Republican state Sen. David Simmons said.

Simmons, president pro tempore of the Florida Senate and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he intends to file legislation for the 2020 Legislative Session that potentially would allow hundreds of thousands of undocumented residents now living in Florida to legally work and be able to legally drive to get to work.

“These individuals deserve the opportunity to be able to drive on our streets, on our roads, after they prove they have insurance. So that they’re not right now living in an underground society, a second class society, where they are not going to assimilate, be able to drive, or work. We should be able to give them work permits, a work visa or something to that affect,” Simmons said in an interview with Florida Politics.

Simmons, of Longwood, had been one of the Senate floor leaders offering amendments and fighting for passage this past spring of SB 168, the state’s new anti-sanctuary cities law sponsored by state Sen. Joe Gruters of Sarasota.

Simmons spoke strongly about his belief that the federal government needs to secure the borders, a rallying call for President Donald Trump and other Republicans. He called the reports of refugee surges at the borders unsustainable.

“We are a nation of laws, not of men. We can’t just break the law because of our compassion and our perceived compassion for a particular group of individuals,” Simmons said.

At the same time, he said there already is a big problem in place, with an estimated 700,000 to 800,000 undocumented people in Florida.  He said allowing people to live in shadows and work and drive illegally, is a crisis, not a solution. Until the federal government “steps up” to solve the problem of undocumented residents, he said, Florida must and can do more.

“We need to solve the problem right now so that these individuals can live and we can control the situation,” Simmons said.

Simmons said he has researched the matter extensively and found other states, including some with Republican leadership, have arranged for temporary state work permits for undocumented workers. So he said he is confident Florida can do so. He said he expects to file a bill by early September.

He spoke in particular of the plight of people coming illegally into the United States in order to flee countries that “do not respect the rule of law.”

“We have a refugee problem, and we need to deal with it,” Simmons said. “Those who are able to work, if we gave them a work visa, a work permit, so that they could come and improve their lives, if in fact they are not criminals and they can actually do things for this nation. We don’t need to have these individuals living as a permanent underclass.”

Simmons said it does nobody any good to demagogue the refugees and the situation, and said people on both sides of the political spectrum are doing so.

He added, though, that there are “Republicans who would do well to realize the importance of treating others with dignity and respect and… these individuals, once they get on the hollowed ground of the United States of America, are entitled to due process.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


  • Charlie

    July 17, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    The very first sentence of this article is already an oxymoron, “law-abiding undocumented residents.” First of all they are illegal immigrants and not residents; secondly, if you are law-abiding, you are not “undocumented.” If you are undocumented, you are an illegal immigrant which means you broke the law and consequently you are not law-abiding.

    The voters in his district need to wake up… Voters in District 9—Seminole County and parts of Volusia county—please wake up and get rid of this moron.

    • Vivian Dodd

      July 24, 2019 at 6:13 pm

      He’s a Rino!! Get rid of this stupid illegal living fool!!!!

  • Tad

    July 18, 2019 at 1:47 am

    Really??? I am a natural born citizen and have been a resident of FL since 1965. When I went for my restricted driver’s license, in 1971, I had to prove who I was via one of my parents and my birth certificate. Then, when I went for my regular license a year later, I’m pretty sure I had to show my birth cert again. Then and after several renewals, in 2010, when I went to renew, I’m sure I had to show my birth cert, again, along with solid evidence of residency… Seemed a bit odd being as, at that time, I had been a FL driver for near 40 years and had been living in the same house for 26 years but whatever…

    Now, you’re telling me that someone, whom you have NO WAY of knowing who they really are or where they came from or when or why… Someone whom has shown utter contempt for both us and our laws by either sneaking in or disappearing as soon as the temp visa expired… Someone whom, if you have your way, is going to walk in and say something along the lines of, “My name is John Doe and I live at 1234 Anystreet, Anytown, FL and I’m here for my driver’s license and my work permit and this is my brother Jim Doe and he’s going to swear I’m telling you the truth”… You’re actually telling that you’re going to GIVE him those ducuments???…

    You’re actually telling me that, after pushing the Sanctuary City bill (which I support), you want to move the entire STATE toward sanctuary status???

    Now, I’m a pretty nice guy and the fact that they’re already here and so long as they’re not causing any other problems or sucking up resources that we need for other things, well, I guess I can put up with that…

    BUT if you think, for one second, that I’m going to sit back and watch while you display the unmitigated gall to encourage it???… Let me tell you something, Senator… I don’t know who you think you are but you have another think coming… You might want to consider the total lack of “dignity and respect” you’re showing the citizens and legal residents of this state before you start handing out some line of BS about people who either broke in or refused to leave when they were supposed to.

    • Carolyn Ortagus

      July 21, 2019 at 11:02 am

      So agree with Charlie. Oxymoron. Law abiding and undocumented (aka ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS). Therefore David Simmons and Scott Powers (ha) seriously need to make honest and NOT POLITICAL statements. TRUTH GUYS, NOT POLITICIAN B.S. The American Citizens are tired of being abused by politicians and their lobbyists. Taking our money and giving it away to people who break the law by sneaking into this country is disgusting. You have seen this truth by seeing Donald Trump winning the election! LIBERAL STATES HAVE ALWAYS CHEATED ON VOTES FOR MORE THAN 50 YEARS. WE ARE SICK OF LIBERAL DEMONCRAT NONSENSE. SEE THE REST OF THE COMMENTS!…..SICK OF LIBERAL DEMONCRAT NONSENSE.

  • Patricia

    July 18, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Bad idea. They are criminials, since they are undocumented. No speical privileges.

  • martin

    July 18, 2019 at 11:46 am

    citizens have to go out of their way to “prove” who they are. Why is this clown bending over backwards to put the needs of the undocumented over the needs of citizens? This is what is wrong with politicians.

    This clown needs to be voted out of office. Wake up!!

  • BC

    July 18, 2019 at 11:54 am

    I agree with previous commenters.
    Obviously the Republican Party of Florida needs to do a better job of vetting who can be in their party. The Koch Bros has teamed up with Soros- so the gravy train for you to remain in office as a Senator in Florida has done it’s deed. We need you primaried and out of Florida. Or just go to the Democrat party- because you do not represent American Citizens. What next from your “dignified” lips? Free Health Care. Please move to California. You are not welcomed here.

  • Dan Lanske

    July 18, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    This senator is tone deaf. Needs to be primaried.

    Illegal immigrants increase crime, and pull down wages.

    They need to be deported. And this senator needs to be primaried.

  • Donna Howell

    July 18, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    When getting a drivers license in this state, we must have proof already of who we are and proof of residence, and now we are licensing illegals? In one sentence to speak about the “laws of the land” and you contradict yourself by saying they deserve Florida ID? You are NOT representing the people in your district. You, like others are representing illegals. Florida already has a huge issue with voting. How will you differentiate the ID you give to these illegals with that of the citizens of Florida? Will you FLAG their ID making them ineligible to VOTE? YOU are becoming part of the problem in this country. Represent those who voted you in or you can be voted out!

  • Jan

    July 18, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    [“We have a refugee problem, and we need to deal with it,” Simmons said. “Those who are able to work, if we gave them a work visa, a work permit, so that they could come and improve their lives, if in fact they are not criminals and they can actually do things for this nation. We don’t need to have these individuals living as a permanent underclass.”]

    There are many American citizens who need all types of assistance–that should be the priority rather than illegals who came here unlawfully. We owe illegals nothing.

  • daniel

    July 19, 2019 at 5:15 am

    quick way to get voted out–put illegals over citizens

  • Arturo Fuente

    July 19, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Senator Simmons ,

    Driving is a privilege not a right. State Farm or The General will likely not insure an illegal alien, with fake ID, permanent domicile, no green card, and how will anyone determine if they are law abiding?

    To your credit Sen. Simmons you did vote in favor of SB 168 with one hand and with the other you want illegal aliens out of the shadows which is right where they should be.

    I’m sure there are a lot of good hard working illegals but they are gaming our system by willfully disobeying our immigration laws.

    Sen. Simmons you can’t have it both ways and earn the respect of your constituents.

    Thank you

  • Glenn Titus

    July 19, 2019 at 11:08 am

    Hard to believe that we now have ‘Republican Socialists’ in office here in Florida. I would have to assume that Sen Simmons will next expect these illegals to have the right to vote since they hold jobs and drivers licenses. Putting criminals rights and feelings over legal citizens should rightfully put this dimwit in the unemployment line.

    I agree, his exit from office is long overdue.

  • Tom

    July 19, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Coming into this country without going through an established process in Ann”undocumented” manner IS ILLEGAL. If you are “undocumented” you have already broken the law and CANNOT be “law abiding.” This is a slap in the face of every person who respected our laws and did the work to come here legally, and it only adds to the problem we’re facing by incentivizing more people to come here illegally.

  • G R Poitras

    July 21, 2019 at 9:04 am

    You sir, are an idiot. I was involved in an accident (other driver sighted) he had an insurance card with a drivers license, the accident happened on a Friday night, Monday after calling his insurance company, I found he had cancelled his policy right after filing for it, this is the bull shit we in Florida have to put up with now. The call to FHP to report this, I was told it was a civil matter, they would not take his license plate, or do anything about his filing a false proof of insurance when ticketed. Long story short he paid a fine on line or by phone, case was never adjudicated in a court of law, and this moron is still driving. Now you want to give illegal aliens the privilege of driving here, Look to be voted out next election!

  • Geneva Ayte

    July 24, 2019 at 9:09 am

    If anybody out there thinks for one minute that our car insurance premiums would be unchanged should this abomination be passed, then you are as delusional as the moron who proposed this bill. If you want to correct this problem, deport them. What I would welcome would be a new law which would require the police to IMPOUND the vehicles of anybody driving on Fl roads without benefit of valid driver’s license or car insurance. Sick and tired of toeing the line and having others abuse the system for decades and then be rewarded for it.

Comments are closed.


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