TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a press conference Thursday, Gov. DeSantis outlined an egregious proposal to prevent immigrant Floridians from accessing education and health care while also criminalizing those who provide transportation or shelter to immigrants, including those who are legally authorized to be in Florida.
Gov. DeSantis’ new plan would prohibit the issuance of community identification cards by local governments, deny immigrants equal opportunities for higher education, and impose a universal requirement for E-Verify on businesses. Among other policies, the plan would also create unnecessary and extreme penalties for individuals and groups who support migrants and asylum seekers, and facilitate more immigrant detention and family separation.
Similar dehumanizing, anti-immigrant attacks from the DeSantis Administration have harmed children and families in the past and continue to exploit vulnerable individuals as props for his personal political agenda.
Tiffani Lennon, executive director at the ACLU of Florida, responded to Gov. DeSantis’ press conference with the following statement:
“This extreme proposal by Gov. DeSantis is cruel and inhumane. State policies that harm people simply for being immigrants or for supporting immigrants under the assumption that they threaten communities are hateful and palpably racist. With this announcement, DeSantis continues to escalate his effort to inflame public sentiment against immigrants by distorting reality and conflating issues to serve his personal political agenda at the expense of Florida families, communities, and employers.
”Let’s focus on the facts: 20% of Floridians are immigrants. Immigrants are Floridians, and Floridians are immigrants. Immigrants in Florida have a spending power of $105.4 billion, contribute $9.1 billion in state and local taxes and make up over 560,000 entrepreneurs. As a community, we must unite around the fact that our state thrives because of the contributions made by immigrants. With this proposal, DeSantis is leading an attack on our neighbors, families, friends, and fellow Floridians. This proposal seeks to reshape Florida into a state that targets certain groups of people based on nationality through unprecedented government overreach and in potential conflict with existing laws.
“When DeSantis makes it harder for immigrants to thrive, he makes it harder for all Floridians to thrive. Immigrants have helped lay the foundations for making Florida the incredible, diverse, and multicultural state millions call home. Yet, he is attacking their entire dignity and livelihood. This proposal seeks to eliminate immigrant access to healthcare, education, jobs, and overall safety, and it will have devastating impacts to Florida’s economy.
“Floridians are suffering due to the high costs of housing and insurance, the need for qualified teachers to foster supportive and safe public learning environments, the need for higher wage jobs, and greater access to affordable health care. These are the issues we need DeSantis and our elected officials to prioritize. Instead, Gov. DeSantis continues to try to divert attention from his own failure to address Floridians’ basic needs and scapegoat an already vulnerable population. This bullying behavior has to stop.
“And lastly, to the immigrant community and their families, you are not alone, and these baseless actions do not represent the values of a majority of Floridians. We are with you and will never stop defending your rights, dignity, and ability to live freely and without fear in Florida.”