Miami – A controversial Florida law that took effect Saturday does not recognize driver’s licenses issued to undocumented immigrants from other states.
This is part of itRepublican Florida governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis signed it in May, prompting many to leave the state.
The push for the new law has sparked protests from migrant workers, from those in the tourism and hospitality industry to those working in agricultural fields.
“We’re hearing that people are starting to leave,” Yvette Cruz with the Farm Workers Union of Florida told CBS News that migrant workers are abandoning fields and construction projects. “We’re still going to see as the law goes into effect.”
The law also includes tougher penalties for those who try to hire or transport undocumented immigrants, which critics say includes family members.
It also requires hospitals that receive Medicaid funds to ask about a patient’s immigration status.
DeSantis says the legislation is needed because of what he sees as the failure of the Biden administration to secure the border.
“Ultimately, if you didn’t have a lot of people facilitating this in our country, you wouldn’t have an illegal immigration problem,” DeSantis said during a recent campaign rally.
For farmworkers like Ofelia Aguilar, children who are undocumented but are U.S. citizens — including an 8-year-old son — fear the new law will leave them separated.
“I’m not going to leave my son,” Aguilar said. “When I go, my son comes with me.
Aguilar said he recently fell off a truck while at work and has been bedridden for two weeks with a back injury. However, she did not seek medical attention for fear of being questioned about her immigration status.
The Florida Policy Institute estimates that nearly 10% of workers in Florida’s most labor-intensive industries are undocumented, leaving employers and workers uncertain about the future the new law creates.
It was one of more than 200 laws signed by DeSantis that took effect Saturday and affect areas including abortion, education and guns.