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Governor DeSantis signs new immigration bill into law

Gov DeSantis signed SB 1718 in Jacksonville, FL on May 10, 2023. (WPEC)
Gov DeSantis signed SB 1718 in Jacksonville, FL on May 10, 2023. (WPEC)
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With Title 42 ending this week, the federal government loses its authority to return many undocumented migrants to their home countries.

On Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed new immigration rules into law designed to make it harder for illegal immigrants to live here in Florida.

Gov. DeSantis blames the Biden administration for the current immigration crisis and says it was time Florida fought back.

“This sends a signal to other people, that are thinking of coming to the border smuggling people somewhere, Florida is not a good place for you to do that,” said DeSantis in Jacksonville.

Immigrant advocates are concerned these new policies will only create more fear and confusion in the community.

“I was horrified but not surprised, I knew that the signature was soon coming. So we expected this outcome from the governor,” said Mariana Blanco, Assistant Executive Director of the Guatemalan-Maya Center.

Senate Bill 1718 requires private companies with 25 or more employees to confirm all of them are legally able to work in the U.S. or the owners will face stiff penalties.

It also requires hospitals that accept Medicaid to collect a patient's immigration status when they're admitted to a hospital, so the state knows where taxpayer dollars are going.

“And the public deserves an honest accounting of how much this is costing us in terms of services,” said DeSantis.

See also: DeSantis signs 'Teachers Bill of Rights' laws, approves $1.05 billion for teacher pay

Blanco told CBS12 News these new policies will only scare people and keep them from seeking help when they need it for themselves or their families.

“We are already starting to see people pick up and move,” shared Blanco. “I want to make sure the community doesn’t panic, that they don’t listen to this fear that is being caused by this noise.”

Gov. DeSantis blames the Biden administration’s immigration crisis for the influx of migrants to Florida, like the boatload that landed in Martin County earlier this year.

“Since August, we’ve had more than 12,000 illegal migrants attempting to come to Florida shores,” said Gov. DeSantis.

The White House released a statement in regard to DeSantis' new immigration law.

"We’re stepping up enforcement to quickly and humanely remove individuals who try to enter the United States unlawfully. Governor DeSantis wants to fly them and their children to cities up north, with no sense of where they are going or why. The governor isn’t interested in solving this problem. He just wants to make it worse by pulling political stunts."

Blanco said her center will continue to serve the community and they will work to change the more restrictive pieces of this legislation.

“Certainly, it’s not going to stop us from operating from providing assistance and it's certainly not going to stop us from advocating against this already awful law,” said Blanco.

The bill goes into effect on July 1.

Opponents tell CBS12 News they will file a lawsuit to block its enforcement before then.

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