Florida loses workers in construction and agriculture due to SB 1718 law against immigrants

The Florida construction industry is in trouble over SB 1718.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The agricultural and construction industries in Florida are some of the hardest hit by the SB 1718 goes into effectwhich began to be applied on July 1, but whose negative impacts began weeks before.

These industries have among their ranks a large number of undocumented immigrantswho now fear working and being persecuted, after the regulation promulgated by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.

It is estimated that at the national level 70% of agricultural workers are immigrants, in addition to the fact that 47% are people without papers.

“Relying on large numbers of undocumented people to fuel an industry is bad policy for both workers and employers,” a Fwd.US report states. “But forcing them to leave would be even more devastating to our food supply and fundamentally unfair, given what they have contributed.”

It is warned that restricting undocumented workers from agricultural work at the national level would imply affecting production between $30,000 and $60,000 million dollars.

In Florida, an estimated 37-47% of farmworkers are undocumented or they were until before July 1. That's about 300,000 people, according to the Florida Farm Workers Association.

“The employee who wants to work on the farm is no longer available. […] How are we going to run the farms?” Hitesh Kotecha, owner of a produce packaging facility in South Florida, told the WSJ.

In the entity, the residence of almost 800,000 undocumented immigrants is reported, of which 24% are dedicated to construction; 17% in administrative areas and professional services; while 15% are in areas of food and entertainment services, in addition to 9% in stores, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.

The WSJ reported that some construction companies have lost up to 50% of their employees, causing delays.

The E-Verify app

SB 1718 imposes penalties on employers and it will prosecute immigrants who use false documents, for which the application of the E-Verify system is also required.

“SB 1718 penalizes employers for failing to verify employment authorization and criminalizes non-citizens who use false identification documents to obtain work,” recalls the civil organization American for Immigration Justice.

Employers required to use the labor verification system are those with more than 25 workers, although the rule is not retroactive, that is, if the owner of a company has already applied E-Verify to his employees, he will not have to do it again.

The audits of the companies will begin until July 1, 2024.

“SB 1718 does not authorize state law enforcement to conduct employment verification audits until July 1, 2024,” notes American for Immigration Justice.

The law also prohibits driver's licenses that other states grant to undocumented immigrants and the first entities affected are Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Another prohibition is transporting undocumented immigrants from another state to Floridain addition to requiring medical service providers to question the immigration status of a person.

There are problems that experts from the Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) highlight, such as the lack of specification on the application of SB 1718 and the definition of “undocumented immigrant.

The foregoing raises doubts about whether people with DACA or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will be affected.

Keep reading:
• Civil rights organizations announce first lawsuit against Florida's anti-immigrant law
• The anti-immigrant and gun-carrying laws signed by Ron DeSantis enter into force
• Why SB 1718 affects not only immigrants, but anyone in Florida

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