New Florida Bills that May Affect Caribbean-Americans

In this Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021 file photo, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of a monoclonal antibody site in Pembroke Pines, Fla. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has appealed a judge’s ruling that the governor exceeded his authority in ordering school boards not to impose strict mask requirements on students to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The governor’s lawyers took their case Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 to the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
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CNW- This past week, the Florida legislature pushed through multiple bills signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. These bills cover a broad swath of areas including abortion, firearm permits, and tort law reform. Some of these laws will affect the large Caribbean immigrant population in the state of Florida.

Here’s a breakdown of a couple of the bills that may affect the Caribbean immigrant community most.

Anti-Immigration Bill

On Wednesday, May 10, Senate Bill 1718 was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis.

In a statement about the bill, DeSantis said, “The Biden Border Crisis has wreaked havoc across the United States and has put Americans in danger. In Florida, we will not stand idly by while the federal government abandons its lawful duties to protect our country. The legislation I signed today gives Florida the most ambitious anti-illegal immigration laws in the country, fighting back against reckless federal government policies and ensuring the Florida taxpayers are not footing the bill for illegal immigration.”

Senate Bill 1718 stipulates:

  • More severe penalties for human trafficking.
  • Business owners with 25 or more employees are now required to use the e-verify system to ensure the employees hired are legally eligible.
  • Healthcare providers that accept Medicaid are required to collect data on the immigration status of their patients.
  • $12 million from the General Revenue Fund will enact the “unauthorized alien transport program” – an initiative that transports illegal immigrants to sanctuaries in Democrat-led cities and states.
  • The issuing of Identification Cards (ID) to illegal immigrants, which invalidates ID cards issued in other states.

Defunding Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 

On Monday, May 15th, Senate Bill 266 was passed. The bill will put an end to college and university diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs in Florida.

“In reality, what this concept of DEI has been is an attempt to impose orthodoxy on the university. And not even necessarily in the classroom, but through the administrative apparatus of the university itself,” DeSantis said. “We are eliminating the DEI programs, we’re gonna treat people as individuals.”

Under the new bill, tertiary educational institutions will be barred from spending tax dollars to develop, promote, sustain, and expand initiatives that champion diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“This has basically been used as a veneer to impose an ideological agenda and that is wrong,” DeSantis said. “In fact, if you look at the way this has actually been implemented across the country, DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination, and that has no place in our public institutions.”

DEI programs assist students who exist on a variety of margins, including sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, and of course race and ethnicity. Caribbean national and first-generation Americans have used DEI programs to their advantage to secure tertiary education.

Curricula will also be affected. “If you want to do things like gender ideology, go to [the University of California] Berkeley,” DeSantis added. “There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but for us with our tax dollars, we want to focus on the classical mission of what a university is supposed to be. The governor goes on to delineate DEI as dividing individuals with “superficial” criteria.

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