In recent legislative sessions, the state legislatures in Florida and Texas have been actively proposing immigration bills, potentially impacting the lives of immigrants. As experienced immigration attorneys, we are here to shed light on these developments and help you understand their implications. Read on to learn more.
Florida’s Immigration Bills
Florida has recently passed several immigration bills, while the Texas bills have not yet progressed beyond the legislative floor. One significant bill, S.B. 264, was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis on May 8, 2023. This bill prohibits Chinese nationals and other foreign nationals from purchasing real estate in Florida, unless they are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Additionally, it establishes a felony offense for certain foreign nationals attempting to purchase real estate within 10 miles of military installations or critical infrastructure. This restriction applies to citizens of China, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, and North Korea.
Concerns have been raised regarding the constitutionality and compliance with the Fair Housing Act of this bill, leading the ACLU and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) to file a lawsuit on May 23 to challenge its provisions.
Another bill, Florida Bill 1718, was signed into law by Governor DeSantis on May 9, 2023. It criminalizes the transportation of undocumented immigrants across state lines into Florida. The bill also prohibits non-citizens from using valid driver’s licenses issued by other states within Florida. Furthermore, this bill affects undocumented immigrants’ access to medical care, as hospitals and healthcare workers are required to report a patient’s immigration status if they are using Medicare.
Businesses are also targeted by this bill, which holds them civilly liable under state law. Employers could face fines of $10,000 for each undocumented employee and risk having their business license revoked. To raise awareness about the economic impact of this law, immigration advocates organized a statewide walkout on June 1, 2023, known as “Un Día Sin Inmigrantes” or “A Day Without Immigrants.”
Lastly, the bill repeals a 2014 law that previously allowed undocumented immigrants to practice law in the state of Florida. Both Florida Bill 1718 and the real estate bills are scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2023.
Texas’ Immigration Bills
In Texas, although the legislature has not achieved success in passing harmful immigration bills at the moment, there is potential for these bills to be revived. Recently, a group of bills failed to progress in the Texas state legislature. However, avenues for their revival remain open.
One proposed bill, H.B. 7, aimed to establish a “Texas Border Force” comprising civilian individuals deputized to enforce immigration laws under the Texas Rangers’ authority. This force would also be responsible for surveillance and gathering information on smuggling and improper entry into the United States.
Following this legislative setback, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for an immediate special session to address legislation aimed at increasing penalties for criminal activities related to smuggling individuals or operating stash houses. On June 2, 2023, the Senate referred three immigration bills to a committee for potential consideration and voting.
The future of these proposed laws and their potential revival in Texas remains uncertain, just as the outcome of legal challenges to Florida’s bills remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the recent legislative session highlights a worrisome trend of state bills expanding immigration crimes, penalties, and enforcement at the state level.
Here at Lightman Law Firm, we stay abreast of all recent immigration developments so we can provide the most accurate information to our clients. If you have any concerns or questions regarding immigration law and its potential impact on your situation, we are here to provide guidance and support. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us assist you in navigating the complex immigration landscape.