Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis urged lawmakers Tuesday to create legislation that would require employers to use a federally operated database to verify the immigration status of workers. But it's unclear if that effort will get any traction among lawmakers during next year's legislative session after a similar measure failed to make it to his desk earlier this year.
DeSantis announced he'd make another push for E-Verify legislation, identifying the matter as a legislative priority, while speaking to reporters at a press event in the Capitol. Gov. DeSantis stated:
We had a big win with doing the sanctuary cities legislation; we want to build off that momentum. The best way to deter illegal immigration is to pursue E-Verify, so we are going to be doing that. I think that will end up saving taxpayers money and obviously it’ll be a deterrent for people to come illegally.
DeSantis isn’t the first Republican governor to push for E-Verify requirements for businesses, with penalties for those found not in compliance. His predecessor, Rick Scott, tried to get an E-Verify bill passed in 2011, his first year in office, but the bill failed in the face of pressure from agri-business interests and immigration activists and he didn’t pursue it again.
About two dozen states now tap into the E-Verify data. But some of them, including Florida, only require verification for government jobs. Earlier this year, DeSantis signed into law a bill that prohibits so-called sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants.
During his 30-minute meeting with reporters, DeSantis outlined his agenda for the 2020 legislative session and breezed through his accomplishments in his first 10 months in office. But appearing at the same event, some legislators expressed skepticism about some of his proposals. Senate President Bill Galvano later said on E-Verify:
I expect that there will be a robust debate. But the case is going to have to be made before it passes. It's not guaranteed.
The bill has been filed by two powerful GOP senators — Tom Lee of Thonotosassa and Joe Gruters of Sarasota, who is also the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. But the issue has split the GOP in the past, as some in the party side with farmers and big business while others take a hardline on illegal immigration. The 60-day legislative session begins Jan. 14.
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Updated: Wed, Nov 13th 2019 @ 9:55am EST