Bills cracking down on illegal immigration headed to the floors of both chambers

Since the federal government hasn't acted, the states must, the sponsors argue.

An immigration reform measure that would crack down on hiring immigrants in the U.S. illegally and require hospitals to collect data on patients’ immigration status when they seek health care is moving to the full Senate floor.

Republican Sen. Blaise Ingoglia’s bill (SB 1718) has Gov. Ron DeSantis backing, and earned a nod from the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee at its final committee stop Wednesday.

Ingoglia said the time has come for states to take matters in their own hands because the feds had failed to solve the crisis of undocumented immigrants coming in through the country’s southern border.

“I blame every single administration going back to the ’80s for this issue,” Ingoglia said, but then he specifically cited the Democrats’ majority during the Obama administration. “They had all the tools, but they chose not to. So I’m saying there is not a need or a want at the federal government to solve this issue. Prove me wrong.”

No Republican Senators spoke up in support of the bill during the final debate segment, not counting Ingoglia’s closing speech. It passed along party lines, but not before Democrats warned of the consequences.

“Businesses that have construction, you better look out,” said Sen. Victor Torres of Central Florida. “Even the agriculture community, you better look out. This is going to have an effect across the state of Florida. The economic punch is to us. These workers are performing jobs we don’t want, or won’t do.”

Torres also took aim at the bill’s provision that would outlaw special drivers’ licenses for undocumented migrants. Some of the states that have these licenses are among those accounting for the most tourists flocking to Florida.

“You are going down the wrong road,” Torres said, also slamming the bill for outlawing county-level efforts to provide identification to migrants with the help of nonprofit organizations.

Sen. Shevrin Jones, a South Florida Democrat, urged the committee to reject the bill and instead workshop different, non-punitive solutions.

“We’re not operating in good faith and we’re not treating individuals like the human beings they are,” he said.

Sen. Lori Berman warned that the state was stepping into the federal government’s territory and the bill would end up mired in the courts.

“Immigration is the purview of the federal government and the things that we are doing here are probably going to be deemed unconstitutional,” the Boca Raton Democrat said.

The most troubling part, for her, was having hospitals collect data about patients’ immigration status.

“People … will come in when they are really, really ill as opposed to taking advantage of preventative care,” she said. “It could cost lives because people are going to wait too long.”

Similar legislation in the House (HB 1617) passed its first committee hearing Monday. It’s been referred to the House calendar.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Jorge Hernandez

    April 25, 2023 at 9:58 pm

    I have ten illegal Mexicans living with me in Jacksonville… and you will not lay a hand on their heads. One of them has already made $500,000 and sends a lot of money to Mexico.

  • Tropical

    April 25, 2023 at 11:36 pm

    Do the bills address the companies that repeatedly hire them?
    No. Stupid desantis and equally stupid legislators.
    Pick the own strawberries, etc, idiots.

    • Dont Say FLA

      April 26, 2023 at 8:21 am

      That’s precisely one of the bill’s stated goals. It’s that, plus limiting access to healthcare for anyone who doesn’t bring proof of citizenship with them to the doctor’s office or the ER. Two problems here: 1- obviously everyone will have to prove citizenship to every doctor, hospital, anesthesiologist, etc, all of which will bring a citizenship proof fee assessed by every provider and every facility upon every patient (you think $20 Tylenols are pricey? Just wait to see what it costs to prove you’re a US citizen) 2- Enforcement against employers of non-citizens without work visas will be selective and subjective to the whim of the local enforcement agency and how their palms have, or have not, been greased. The real solution to Fleur D’uhs immigration woes is barbed wire beaches.

  • Lex

    April 26, 2023 at 10:54 am

    I think that several States need to push to make this a Federal issue. I think there is a desire by the American people to come up with a fair way to handle illegals in the United States, but they also want the spicket of illegal immigration turned off so that foreign policy controls how many people enter the country. The government cannot function in a lawless state. All the liberals in the US forget that they are not doing the illegal immigrants favors by allowing them into the country as second-class citizens afraid to use our police. If you provide the safety net being a US citizen allows it is expensive to provide that safety net to anyone entering the country. Printing money has finally started to the create the inflation that was predicted. Rambling aside we want the policy fixed. We deserve to know who enters the country. Once that is truly fixed then we can talk about how to deal fairly with the illegals that are here and living in the USA.

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