As of today, Law SB1718, an anti-immigrant regulation approved on May 2 by the state Congress, with a Republican majority, and promulgated on May 16 by Governor Ronald de Santis, enters into force in the state of Florida, USA. who has presidential aspirations and without a doubt seeks to turn these restrictions into one of his campaign battering rams for the primary elections of said party. This regulation is considered the toughest package against irregular migration in the United States and, therefore, may reduce the number of undocumented immigrants in that state, but at the same time it is already causing impacts on the availability and cost of labor especially in agriculture and construction.
The number of Guatemalan migrants residing in that state is estimated to be between 160,000 and 175,000, most of whom were undocumented and whose future is uncertain. An exodus of workers of various nationalities to other states has already been reported, although there have also been several walks and peaceful rallies to demand the repeal of said rule, which is not without a certain racist overtone.
As of today, no driver’s license will be issued to undocumented migrants. Several states issue driver’s licenses as a measure to provide identification and ensure road safety. However, in Florida, permits from other demarcations will no longer be accepted if the person does not prove their legal stay. If someone is looking for a job, any private employer is required to validate her immigration status in the E-Verify system or they could be fined. Until now, they were only required to verify public agencies or contractors executing works for the State.
Any person who transports, houses or helps undocumented migrants is penalized with fines and jail, which even affects churches, shelters and reception centers. Hospitals must collect data on the immigration status of any admitted patient and submit reports if requested by authorities. Organizations for human rights and for the defense of migrants claim that the norm is unconstitutional, which, in addition, they point out as racist and as being directed against the Hispanic community.
The Guatemalan government has offered, through the Miami consulate, guidance and advice to migrants who contact them. However, there has not been a single protest position against the law, which exposes compatriots to being detained or deported despite being economically active, hard-working people who pay taxes in the mentioned state. Nor has there been a campaign in Mayan languages, despite the large number of indigenous Guatemalan migrants in that territory. Perhaps they do not want to have friction with far-right Republican congressmen or senators, from whom they have obtained some support. In fact, no Guatemalan legislator, politician or candidate has spoken clearly and vehemently in support of the Guatemalans.
It is possible that the strategy followed by De Santis will give him returns on his electoral route, but it is a race against time: when the economy is affected by the shortage of agricultural workers, construction and remodeling, meat processing, industrial restaurants and hotels, cleaning buildings and houses, then it could become a counterproductive phenomenon. And all for denying opportunities to migrants, despite being himself a descendant of migrants.