New Florida Immigration Bills Spark Hispanic Leaders Meeting in Palm Beach Gardens

Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign one of the most sweeping immigration laws in the coming days. Among the proposals is one that calls for criminal penalties for those who hire and help undocumented immigrants. The law has left many Hispanic leaders worried, and those who work with immigrants are looking at ways they can still help when the new laws take effect.

About 30 area Hispanic leaders, including ministers and immigration lawyers, met in Palm Beach Gardens to discuss how to help the immigrant community without getting in trouble with the law. They are concerned about one of the toughest bills that lawmakers recently passed, which would make it a felony for giving a ride, a job, or providing shelter to an undocumented immigrant.

Juan Pagan, the president of the Florida Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce, attended the meeting and said the effects of the new laws are still unclear. “We have to know all the concerns and all the span of this new law,” Pagan said. “What is going to be covered? What is not going to be covered and how it affects the population.”

Another bill proposed would force medical facilities to ask patients about their immigration status and report that to the state. But supporters of the measures, including many people who migrated legally to the U.S., said the majority of Floridians support these sweeping laws.
State Rep. Berny Jacques, R-Clearwater, a co-sponsor of many of the immigration bills, said, “We have to do what we can at the state level to make sure that our state is not a magnet once these people do cross these borders that are left wide open.”

Opponents of these bills said the laws are unconstitutional. The Hispanic leaders believe the case will head to court, where they hope a judge will delay and eventually deny implementation of the measures. In any case, the new laws will have a significant impact on Florida’s Hispanic community and those who work with immigrants.

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