Undocumented immigrants face stiffer penalties

Photo courtesy: Florida Phoenix

On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed bills designed to make it harder for undocumented immigrants to live in the state, possibly deterring them from coming to the state of Florida.

The rules enlisted within these bills include driving without a license, “Non-official ID cards” bumping up certain criminal penalties.

In a press conference at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office of Central Florida, DeSantis stood before the audience accompanied by Sheriff Grady Judd, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, and Attorney General Ashley Moody.

The bills signed by DeSantis were HB 1589, SB 1036, HB 1451, and HB 1589. These new bills impose a mandatory 10-day jail sentence for a conviction for driving without a license or with a license that has been suspended, canceled, or revoked.

According to the Florida Phoenix, DeSantis said that one of his biggest concerns is immigrant migration. “One of the biggest deterrents we can do for illegal immigration is to make sure people that are doing that are facing serious consequences,” DeSantis said.

In addition, DeSantis also signed SB 1036, bumping criminal penalties for people who commit felonies after having been deported and returning to the United States or who are found to be members of crime organizations, often designed to launder drugs, humans, or weapons, and human trafficking.

Aggravated assault is now a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and fines up to $5,000; once the new law takes effect on Oct. 1. The crime will then bring up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

For more serious crimes, first-degree felonies, now worth up to 30 years in prison and $10,000 in fines, would bring 30 years to life behind bars.

HB 1451 prohibits the state and local governments from recognizing non-official ID cards sometimes issued by community groups to provide people lacking official ID with at least one way to establish their identities.

Vannessa Coe, managing attorney for the community ID program at Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, said she plans to continue issuing the cards notwithstanding the new law.

As reported by CBS News in May, DeSantis signed into law legislation prohibiting anyone transporting illegal immigrants into the state. Among other restrictions, the law imposes penalties on Florida businesses that hire undocumented immigrants and requires a citizenship question on patient forms for hospitals that accept Medicare.

Under the law, Florida also no longer recognizes driver’s licenses issued to undocumented immigrants from other states.