Florida Republicans Seek To Criminalize Any Contact With Undocumented People
Ron DeSantis and his Republican cronies are at it again.
Back from his torture stint in Guantanamo Bay, DeSantis and his administration have been hard at work imposing draconian policies on the population of Florida. Specifically its undocumented population.
In a move that reminds me of the penalties for “harboring Jews” in Nazi Germany, DeSantis intends to make it a felony to have an undocumented person in your home or in your car. The bill responsible, known as Senate Bill 1718, is likely to pass in the Conservative-leaning state legislature. The language of the bill states that anyone who attempts to transfer an undocumented person “into or within this state” will be guilty of a third-degree felony. The bill will also make anyone who “conceals, harbors, or shields” an undocumented person “any place within this state” to be guilty of a felony as well. To make matters worse, anyone who has been previously convicted of a crime will be slapped with a second-degree felony should they be found in the company of an undocumented person.
I say “in the company of” because this bill is an attempt to outright criminalize any personal contact with an undocumented person whatsoever. You can’t have them over for a beer. You can’t give them a ride in your car. You can’t be anywhere that the government deems private without being at risk of a serious crime. And God forbid you give them a job. The bill also intends to impose hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fines on anyone found guilty of giving an undocumented person work. Anyone who an employer finds out is undocumented must be immediately fired.
The bill also stipulates that Florida law will now refuse to recognize driver’s licenses and other forms of identification that were issued to an undocumented person out of state. It even requires authorities to take DNA samples from undocumented people who are put into custody. Finally, the bill will require any Medicaid-accepting hospital to force its patients to disclose their citizenship status. The bill will not require hospitals to refuse service to undocumented people, thank God, but the especially severe laws of the bill may pressure hospitals to second guess who should be given care.
There is nothing about this bill that isn’t terrible. There is nothing about this bill that addresses the problems that real Floridians face. Millions of Florida’s citizens are at risk of losing virtually all of their healthcare benefits, yet the DeSantis administration shows more concern for gutting education systems and trampling on the rights of marginalized communities. It’s ugly, it’s messy, and it’s all par for the course for the Republican party in America. And they intend to spread their dark gospel across the United States. The sponsor of the bill, Senator Blaise Ingoglia touted the proposed policies as a victory, saying “this should be the model for all 50 states going forward”.
If that day ever comes, it will be a dark one indeed.
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