DeSantis signs bills to tighten immigration control

by | Mar 15, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed three bills into law to tighten Florida’s immigration laws, including tougher penalties for driving without a license, stricter reclassification for re-entering the U.S. illegally, and restrictions on ID documents for undocumented immigrants.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed into law three bills aimed at tightening Florida’s immigration laws, including measures to increase penalties for driving without a valid license, reclassify criminal offenses for individuals who re-enter the U.S. illegally after deportation, and restrict the acceptance of identification documents issued to undocumented immigrants by counties and municipalities.

House Bill 1589 amends existing legislation to increase penalties for individuals caught driving without a valid license. Specifically, the bill stipulates that a second offense will now be classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, escalating to a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail for a third or subsequent offense.

Senate Bill 1036 and House Bill 1451 collectively address concerns related to illegal reentry and identification documentation. The former intensifies the consequences for individuals who illegally reenter the United States after deportation and then commit a felony, elevating such offenses to a higher degree to impose more severe penalties. It further aims to crack down on crimes benefiting transnational crime organizations by increasing penalties for associated misdemeanors or felonies.

House Bill 1451, on the other hand, bars local governments from recognizing identification documents issued by entities that knowingly provide IDs to those unlawfully present in the U.S., aiming to create a uniform standard for ID acceptance statewide.

“It’s important to get the policy right, and we’ve got our policy so much better today than it was six or seven years ago in the state of Florida with respect to illegal immigration,” DeSantis said during a press conference where he signed the bills into effect. “One of the biggest deterrents we can do for illegal immigration is to make sure people that are doing that are facing serious consequences.”

The singings come days after the governor dispatched more than 250 additional state personnel and various air and sea assets to the Florida Keys and the state’s southern waters to preempt a potential surge in illegal immigration from Haiti.

The deployment included more than 250 officers and soldiers, alongside more than a dozen air and sea crafts. The dispatch is comprised of 39 officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; 23 officers and eight seacrafts from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; 48 Guardsmen and four helicopters from the Florida National Guard; and 30 officers, an additional aircraft, and drones for surveillance purposes from the Florida Highway Patrol. DeSantis additionally authorized the deployment of up to 133 soldiers from the Florida State Guard to the Florida Keys to assist in the operation.


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