Governor DeSantis Signs Nation’s Toughest Illegal Immigration Bill, Attacks Biden Border Policy

Governor DeSantis Signs Nation’s Toughest Illegal Immigration Bill, Attacks Biden Border Policy
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Heritage Foundation's Leadership Summit in National Harbor, Md., on April 20, 2023. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)
Dan M. Berger

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 10 signed an illegal immigration bill he said was the toughest in the country.

One of its provisions requires companies with more than 25 employees to use the federal E-Verify system to check a job applicant’s eligibility.

At a signing ceremony in Jacksonville, DeSantis blasted the Biden administration’s lack of border enforcement, allowing illegal immigration to surge.

DeSantis said that with the formal ending of the COVID crisis—and the expiration of immigration controls tied to it—illegal immigrants would enter the country at a rate of over 13,000 a day, more than 4.5 million a year.

He tied that to many problems: crime, record rates of drug overdose deaths, and a skyrocketing financial burden to taxpayers forced to fund services such as medical care, education, and law enforcement for illegals.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the debt ceiling at the White House in Washington on May 9, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the debt ceiling at the White House in Washington on May 9, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

“Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers that energy in the executive is the leading characteristic of good government,” DeSantis said.

“Where’s this president’s energy? Where’s his vigor? Where’s his commitment to the cause? He’s just sitting around doing nothing of importance or nothing of note while the American people suffer.”

That suffering was attested to by two speakers at the event.

One, Rep. Kiyan Michael, a Republican representing Jacksonville in the state House, lost her son in a fatal auto collision with an illegal immigrant who was at fault in 2007.

The other, Nikki Jones, lost her husband in a fatal auto accident in 2019 with a drunk illegal immigrant who had previous DUI arrests but had never been deported.

Cracking Down on Employers

She is now struggling to raise two toddlers, who were 2 years and 6 months old, when their father died.

Other provisions of the bill include suspending licenses for employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants; making use of a fake ID to gain employment a felony; banning local governments and non-governmental organizations from issuing identification documents to illegal migrants, and invalidating out-of-state driver’s licenses issued exclusively to illegal border crossers.

The bill enhances penalties for human smuggling. It makes knowingly transporting five or more illegal migrants or a single illegal minor a second-degree felony subject to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

It provides $12 million to continue the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program to relocate illegal immigrants to sanctuary jurisdictions.

DeSantis made headlines last year when he sent 50 illegal immigrants to the upscale Massachusetts vacation island of Martha’s Vineyard, a sanctuary city.

Illegal immigrants gather, after being flown in from Texas on a flight funded by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, at Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., on Sept. 15, 2022. (Vineyard Gazette/Handout via Reuters)
Illegal immigrants gather, after being flown in from Texas on a flight funded by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, at Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., on Sept. 15, 2022. (Vineyard Gazette/Handout via Reuters)

And the bill requires hospitals to collect and report health care costs for illegal border crossers. During the 2021-22 fiscal year, DeSantis said, they ran up $340 million in health care costs. “Taxpayers were on the hook for two-thirds of that,” he said.

The Biden administration wants to use Medicaid to cover illegal aliens, said DeSantis, adding that Florida doesn’t support it and won’t do it. He said gathering data about the care given to those here illegally will help.

“Because [while] we were able to identify some, we think that there’s a lot more and the public deserves an honest accounting of how much this is costing us in terms of services. And healthcare is probably No. 1.”

DeSantis pounded Biden repeatedly.

He said the president wouldn’t give the Coast Guard enough assets to adequately patrol off Florida’s shores to stop illegals at sea who can be sent back.

Presidential ‘Dereliction of Duty’

The governor said the president is guilty of a “huge dereliction of duty” in permitting a border so open that the nation had over 100,000 overdose deaths last year.

“The Biden administration recently claimed that when it comes to illegal immigration, quote, you’ve seen it come down by more than 90 percent,” he said.

“That is a lie. That is something that they’re trying to feed you and hope their buddies in corporate media will run with it, but that is factually untrue and demonstrably untrue.”

A provision of the new bill is the use of rapid DNA technology, which allows DNA analysis and matching in as little as 90 minutes, said Al Nienhuis, Hernando County Sheriff and president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association.

It has previously taken up to 3 months to get a DNA match, and people were only tested if arrested for serious crimes, he said.

Now, he said, all illegal immigrants will be tested, even when picked up for minor crimes like shoplifting. That will allow authorities to determine quickly—before the detainee can be released on bail—if the suspect is wanted elsewhere in the country on more severe charges.

Nienhuis discussed serious crimes committed by illegal immigrants and exemplified the system’s breakdown. A man recently sentenced to 60 years in prison for murder had been caught in Texas by the Border Patrol, claimed to be a juvenile, gave a false name to law enforcement, and was released with a notice to appear in court.

He was released in Jacksonville “in the dead of night, without any notice to local law enforcement, where he was released without any supervision whatsoever.”

Devastating Testimony

Only after he stabbed a local resident to death did he come to the system’s attention, Nienhuis said.

In another case, Nienhuis said a 19-year veteran of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office was struck and killed by an illegal immigrant employed by a construction company.

“This murderer made his way across the southern border without incident and made his way to Tampa, where he was hired along with several other immigrants.”

Jones, a Plant City widow, said her husband’s killer “had multiple traffic violations including DUIs and kept getting let out on U.S. soil prior to him killing my husband. Yeah, four violations and he never got deported. He even attended DUI school as an illegal alien in the state of Florida.”

The man knew how to manipulate the system, she said, and refused a breathalyzer and field sobriety tests.

“Despite evidence of alcohol in the scene, there was a lack of evidence for the court system, which resulted in a lesser charge,” she said. “Ultimately, he was sentenced to four years in jail with plans of deportation. Currently, he is at an ICE detention facility after serving only three years.”

“The aftermath is devastating beyond words,” she said. “I have two girls. One was only six months and the other only two years at the time he was killed. They will never know their father or know how much he loved them.

“They will never experience father-daughter dances or go fishing with him, which my husband loved to do, and always talked about teaching the kids how to fish when they got older.”

“Every day I wake up and pray to god that I will be able to keep my home for my kids. We had just bought our home. My husband just retired from the military and we settled in Plant City, Florida.”

Governor’s Words of Comfort

She’s had to face the challenge of paying a mortgage, childcare, and other bills without her husband’s support or any other help.

“Nobody holds responsibility for illegal aliens in the United States. So when an American or legal family is destroyed, there are no funds to stabilize that family. No businesses are held accountable. No sponsors are held responsible. No relief programs are available. Nothing. I’ve tried.”

DeSantis, who opponents have sometimes criticized for lack of warmth, showed his human side at this press conference.

When Jones finished speaking and he returned to the podium to thank her, the mike picked up his quiet words, comforting her and telling her that help might be available.

He thanked her daughters, who were in the audience, at the end of the speech for being so good and handed them two pens he used to sign the bill.

Michael said she was grateful for the opportunity to sponsor the bill in the House, despite being a freshman legislator just elected in November 2022.

She said that her son was driving to cash his paycheck when the fatal accident occurred. Her son’s killer was “a twice-deported illegal. That means he was deported twice and defied our laws, and came back.”

She said he didn’t have a driver’s license and didn’t know he couldn’t make a U-turn at the intersection where he plowed into the car driven by Michael’s son.

“He didn’t know our laws and couldn’t understand our signs,” she said.

Money spent on illegal immigrants disturbs her, she said.

“We have senior citizens that cannot afford to pay their bills. They have to decide, are they going to be able to eat? It bothers me that we have veterans like my husband, 20 years in the military, and they’re sleeping on the street, when we have illegals in hotels. That bothers me.”

DeSantis spoke for more than 20 minutes, frequently with passion. In thanking him for his support on the issue, Nienhuis said.

“He’s not only courageous, but does he have a tremendous grasp of minute details over such a broad spectrum. I see people nodding their heads. I thank you for taking the time to really educate yourself on these issues.”

Dan M. Berger mostly covers issues around Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for The Epoch Times. He also closely followed the 2022 midterm elections. He is a veteran of print newspapers in Florida and upstate New York and now lives in the Atlanta area.
Related Topics