PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A Florida law taking effect this summer is causing panic among the immigrant community in Pensacola as many families try to leave the state.
Florida’s immigration bill, SB1718, imposes some of the toughest penalties and restrictions in the country. It’s causing immigrants to leave now for fear of being deported.
“They’re honorable, wonderful wonderful people,” Henry Tice said.
A group of people brought their concerns to the city council Thursday night even though there’s not much the council can do.
The new law will invalidate out-of-state IDs and Florida-based agencies cannot issue new ones including a driver’s license.
Tice, the General Manager of North Florida Auto Brokers, said he speaks Spanish and most of his customers are Hispanic.
“This past week, I had four of our customers that came in and said would you give us our titles so we can go title our cars in Alabama,” Tice said. “We’re moving to Alabama…One said I don’t know why people hate us. All we want to do is do the job Americans don’t want to do.”
Chandra Smiley, CEO of Community Health Northwest Florida, said they provide primary care to anyone who walks in including immigrant families. She’s afraid people will put off important health appointments even though they have not been mandated to collect any information and they’re operating as normal.
“We have prenatal patients who are requesting that they be induced before July 1st because they are afraid that after July 1st, if they have a baby in a hospital setting, the baby will be taken away and they will be deported,” Smiley said.
Local realtor Paola Chapman said several families put their houses up for sale this week and they’re getting out of Florida. She said even documented immigrants don’t feel safe.
“They’re leaving already,” Chapman said. “And they’re going to continue leaving this state costing us billions of dollars because those are taxpayers.”
The new law will also require employers to check their workers’ immigration status using a federal database known as E-Verify. Those who don’t comply will be fined $1,000 a day until they provide proof that their workers are legal citizens.
Opponents of the law say it will have a devastating effect on the agriculture and construction industries in the Sunshine State.
The law takes effect July 1.