Migrant workers said to be leaving Florida over the new immigration law

Miami — A controversial Florida law which took effect Saturday no longer recognizes driver’s licenses issued to undocumented immigrants from other states, among other restrictions.

It is part of a sweeping immigration bills signed by Republican Florida governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis back in May that is prompting many to leave the state.

The run-up to the new law has sparked protests by immigrant workers, from those in the tourism and hospitality industries, to those who work in agricultural fields.

“We are hearing people are starting to leave,” Yvette Cruz with the Farmworkers Association of Florida told CBS News of reports of migrant workers abandoning fields and construction projects. “We’re just going to keep seeing that more as the law will take effect.”

The law also includes harsh penalties for those who try and hire or transport undocumented migrants, which critics say can include family members.

It also requires hospitals that accept Medicaid funds to ask for a patient’s immigration status.

DeSantis claims the legislation is needed due to what he considers the Biden administration’s failure to secure the border.

“At the end of the day, you wouldn’t have the illegal immigration problem if you didn’t have a lot of people who were facilitating this in our country,” DeSantis recently said during a campaign rally.

For farmworkers like Ofelia Aguilar, who is undocumented but has children who are US citizens — including an 8-year-old son — the new law sparks fear of separation.

“I’m not going to leave my son behind,” Aguilar said. “If I leave, my son is coming with me.”

Aguilar said he recently fell off a truck while on the job, and was bedridden with a back injury for two weeks. However, she did not seek medical care for fear she’d be asked about her immigration status.

The Florida Policy Institute estimates that nearly 10% of workers in Florida’s most labor-intensive industries are undocumented, leaving employers and workers uncertain about the future the new law will create.

The law was one of more than 200 signed by DeSantis which took effect Saturday and impact areas including abortion, education and guns.

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