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Governor DeSantis Signed Xenophobic Bill, Putting Florida on the List of Most Anti-Immigrant States

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The anti-immigrant bill SB 168 and its companion in the house, HB 527, were signed today by Governor Ron DeSantis after drawing strong condemnation from the business community, national organizations and a bi-partisan group of elected officials including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

On April 2019, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a travel advisory for immigrants and people of color urging them to use extreme caution when traveling to Florida, alerting them of the risks of being racially profiled and detained without probable cause.

Florida Democratic Party Chair, Terrie Rizzo released the following statement after Governor DeSantis signed the bill:

"Shame on Governor DeSantis and Florida Republican legislators who prefer to side with President Trump's xenophobic agenda rather than Florida business owners, elected officials, law enforcement agents and community members who asked him to veto this bill. SB 168 doesn't address any issue in our state. It is a xenophobic and hateful bill that would only create harm in our communities of color, negatively impact our economy and prevent thousands of tourists from visiting our beautiful state. Governor Desantis had the option to put Florida residents first but instead he has put Florida on the map as one of the most anti-immigrant states in our country. This is disgraceful."

Elected Officials, Business Owners, and Community Leaders Have Condemned This Bill

Nikki Fried, Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Op-ed: Florida SB 168, regarding 'sanctuary cities,' is a symbolic solution to a fictional problem. "I've gained an appreciation of what agriculture means to our state. It's honest work. It's tiring work. And most of the time, it's thankless work. Behind only tourism, it's the backbone of Florida's economy. I've also learned that over 54 percent of Florida's immigrants work in farming, fishing, or forestry. They make up more than 45 percent of the workforce in those industries. And targeting immigrants would create lasting damage to businesses and industries throughout our state's economy." [Orlando Weekly, 4/16/19]

LETTER: 120+ of Florida's business leaders are uniting in opposition to SB 168, HB 527, and other anti-immigrant legislation. "With unemployment at near-record lows, Florida's economy cannot afford this harmful legislation. According to a new NAE study, 85.8 percent of undocumented immigrants in Florida are of working age (ages 16-64), and pay $1.7 billion each year in taxes. SB 168 could result in a 10 percent immigrant exodus from Florida to deliver an annual loss of $121.4M in taxes and $3.5B in GDP, threatening the economic prosperity and safety of all Floridians." [ABIC Florida, 4/15/19]

Paul Di Mare - SB 168 is anti-business, anti-immigrant and threatens the safety of all Floridians. "Florida accounts for 56 percent of U.S. citrus production and ranks second in value of vegetable production. We did not get to where we are alone. Much of our success is a result of the entrepreneurship, optimism and innovative spirit of hardworking immigrants. Policies like SB 168 will drive away agriculture's labor force and leave Florida farmers without options." [Miami Herald, 3/22/19]

Senator Victor Torres: SB 168 insults Florida's history as a state that welcomes immigrants. "By thrusting more responsibilities on local police officers, SB 168 also burdens the brave men and women working hard to keep us all safer. They already work full weeks, plus overtime." [Miami Herald, 3/03/19]

Miami police chief denounces anti-sanctuary bill: "I don't care if you have papers or don't have papers… My job is to make sure everyone in this city is safe." Chief Jorge Colina: "I don't care if you have papers or don't have papers, where you came from, or who your parents are. That's not my job. My job is to make sure everyone in this city is safe." [Fox News, 3/23/17]

Impact by the Numbers

  • If 10 percent of undocumented immigrants leave Florida, the state will lose:
    • $76.7 million in federal taxes, and $44.7 million in state and local taxes.
    • In total, Florida will lose $3.5 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • This 10 percent includes an estimated 44,598 employed workers, whose departure will reflect a $1.4 billion loss in wage earnings.
  • The state will also lose an additional 27,395 jobs that are dependent on undocumented immigrant consumers and supporters of industry.
  • These indirect job losses will result in another $911.4 million loss in wage earnings for the state.
  • Analysis on the implementation of SB 168 by the Florida Immigration Coalition: SB 168 Implementation.