While America’s illegal immigration crisis continues at the southern border, the push for immigration reform and border security in Washington, D.C. remains caught in a state of seemingly never-ending gridlock and obstructions. However, Florida’s recently elected Republican governor is making moves of his own to address the situation for his own state.
On Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared that the state would work to implement e-verify requirements in the Sunshine State.
“Today, I am calling on the Florida Legislature to pass and send to my desk common sense E-Verify legislation to ensure a safe and legal labor market in Florida,” DeSantis stated on Monday. “The reason this is so timely is twofold – it’s about fairness for lawful immigrants and native-born workers, and it’s about public safety.”
At a Monday press conference, the governor explained that “it’s long-standing federal law that, in order to be eligible for employment, you have to be here lawfully. Maybe you’re a U.S. citizen, maybe you’re a lawful permanent resident, maybe you’re on a visa, whatever. But you have to fit in one of those legally prescribed categories.”
E-Verify is a federal, internet-based system meant to help employers ensure that they only hire people legally eligible to work in the United States by checking records against government databases. Mandatory implementation of the service has long been a major demand among immigration hawks.
After noting several other states in the Southeast that already have E-Verify requirements, DeSantis explained that using the system both “creates a disincentive for people to come illegally” and also “further tightens the labor market,” which would benefit the state’s blue-collar workers.
In a statement supporting the governor’s initiative, Florida Senator Joe Gruters said that the proposed E-Verify requirement “will protect Florida workers against unfair job competition and wage depression.”
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In addition to confronting the economic challenges presented by America’s illegal immigration problem, DeSantis has also made moves to confront the public safety problems it creates with an effort to get the state’s prison system to work more closely with federal immigration authorities.
DeSantis signed a state-level ban on sanctuary jurisdictions earlier this year. Currently, his administration has been working on an effort to get prison guards at a state correctional facility deputized as federal immigration officers under Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) cooperation program. A story at the Tampa Bay Times cites a statement from the Florida Department of Corrections, which said Friday that the state’s plan had been “reviewed and approved” by the feds and that the state is now “awaiting official notification of the Memorandum of Agreement from ICE.”
According to ICE, the 287(g) program enables “state and local officers to act as a force multiplier in the identification, arrest, and service of warrants and detainers of incarcerated foreign-born individuals with criminal charges or convictions,” thereby helping to keep them from getting back out into American communities.
And despite the pushback that DeSantis has received from opponents of the enforcement efforts, Floridians appear pretty satisfied with the overall job he’s done so far in Tallahassee. Recent polling shows the former House Freedom Caucus member with 72 percent voter approval in the state.
The immigration debate may appear hopelessly hamstrung for the foreseeable future, but Florida’s moves on the issue remind us that the same doesn’t have to be true at the state level.