Senate Republicans in Florida are blocking Governor Ron DeSantis’ efforts to implement E-Verify in the state.
Senate President Bill Galvano stated that he does not back a measure that would compel Florida’s private employers to use the federal government’s E-Verify system, which sees if new hires are legally able to work in America.
“It is something that the Florida Senate — or at least this administration — does not endorse,” Galvano said to The News Service of Florida in an interview on December 12, 2019.
Attempts to pass E-Verify have met roadblocks among the Republican establishment-dominated Florida Legislature for years.
Florida’s agriculture, tourism, construction industries, and major GOP donors have heavily criticized these policies.
However, DeSantis has made this proposal one of his legislative priorities for the 2020 legislative session, which begins in January 14.
DeSantis has become an “America First” Governor of sorts who has made immigration his primary issue as a gubernatorial candidate in 2018.
Although Galvano voice his opposition to a full-fledged E-Verify requirement, he left the door open for a watered-down half-measure.
“Let me put it this way,” Galvano stated. “I don’t support having the requirement that everyone (use) E-Verify. It’s putting an additional responsibility on non-government officials.”
The Florida state government recently banned sanctuary cities and is now looking to build more momentum on the hottest issue going into the 2020 presidential elections.
State Representative Cord Byrd, who is introducing an E-Verify bill in the House, argued in favor of E-Verify.
“I have been talking to members and listening to their concerns and trying to address some of those, so I don’t think the bill would look exactly like the one that was filed last session,” Byrd told the News Service on December 12.
“Immigration is one of the top issues with the electorate and we are limited at the state level with what we can do,” Byrd said, adding that E-Verify is one of the items under the state Legislature’s control.
Byrd argued that the system, if approved, would lead to higher wages because employers would no longer be able to hire undocumented workers for less money.
“Illegal labor impacts the wages of everyone and it drives wages down,” Byrd said. “As we talk about trying to increase wages in so many areas, this is one way we can impact that.”
On the other hand, E-Verify opponents argue that the policy would hurt Florida’s economy because businesses would allegedly struggle to find workers in a state where unemployment is low.
Tony DiMare, the Vice President of DiMare Farms, told the New Service that E-Verify could potentially bring the “state’s economy to its knees.”
DiMare, claims he told DeSantis about his issues with the policy and called it “disheartening” to learn that DeSantis has placed it as a legislative priority, even after talking to him.
“We have to hope that we can lobby against it,” DiMare stated.
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