Floridians Start To Leave En Masse As Ron DeSantis’s Agenda Backfires

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Anecdotes are increasing — and increasing — about immigrants exiting the state of Florida after the recent creation of new rules targeting undocumented communities with potentially harsh penalties connected to simple acts like employment and giving someone a ride.

On the latter point, there have been serious concerns about the seemingly lax definition for human smuggling on which the DeSantis plan relies. In short, it might ensnare anyone who knowingly — or with a reasonable expectation of knowing — provides transportation to an undocumented immigrant without so-called inspection from the authorities, whatever “inspection” as reports on the bill have described it even means. What about Florida immigrant communities where certain individuals have their documents in order and members of the same families are still working on that? The bill also gets just cruel, demanding new reporting on the costs of providing health care to undocumented individuals, as though they’re in some special category that doesn’t deserve treatment.

Even a GOP state legislator in Florida admitted to the apparent cases of people leaving. Workers are “already starting to move to Georgia and other states,” state Rep. Rick Roth told a community crowd in comments highlighted on social media and by Florida Politics. Roth was speaking at an event where he tried to downplay the impacts of the law, characterizing it as more bark than bite, although the penalties it includes in certain cases of a violation aren’t fake. State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat, “said she’s heard about construction sites that now have half the needed workers,” according to Florida Politics.

“It’s urgent that you talk to all your people and convince them that you have resources, state Representatives, and other people, that can explain the bill to you,” Roth added at that event — which seemed oriented essentially entirely around those departures. The subject has also come up in local media reports, like on an NBC affiliate in the Palm Beach area. In a recent segment, the channel — WPTV News — spotlighted one local immigrant family who was leaving. “We have to move to protect the family,” a member of that family said, per an interpreter. There was also recently a widespread strike action focused on protesting the law that saw dozens of businesses in city after city around Florida temporarily close, as protest crowds gathered.