On May 9, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1718 (FL 1718) into law. FL 1718 is described on Governor DeSantis’ website as the “Strongest Anti-Illegal Immigration Legislation in the Country.” The law, among other things, requires private employers with 25 or more employees to use the E-Verify system for new employees; and, beginning July 1, 2024, amends the penalties for an employer’s noncompliance to register and use the E-Verify system, including imposing a daily fine of $1,000 and allowing for the suspension of employer licenses after multiple findings of noncompliance. Further, effective July 1, 2024, the new law creates penalties for employers who knowingly employ unauthorized aliens, including probation, quarterly reporting requirements, and the suspension or revocation of employer licenses. The law takes effect on July 1, 2023.
A summary of provisions of the law relating to the mandatory use of E-Verify, access to Florida driver’s licenses, and hospital requirements to maintain data on patients’ immigration status, appears below.
FL 1718 mandates Florida employers to verify employment eligibility for state law purposes, requires E-Verify participation for most Florida employers, and sets out penalties for violations
- Beginning on July 1, 2023, the law requires employers to verify each new employee’s employment eligibility within three business days after the first day the new employee begins working for pay. This is consistent with current federal law.
- The new law requires private employers with 25 or more employees to use E-Verify for all new employees and retain a copy of the documentation provided for E-Verify as well as the official verification generated by E-Verify for at least three years. This is consistent with current federal law.
- The new law requires employers who use E-Verify to certify on its first tax return each calendar year that it is in compliance when making contributions to or reimbursing the state’s unemployment compensation or reemployment assistance system.
- The law also requires public agencies to use the E-Verify system to verify a new employee’s employment eligibility.
- FL 1718 provides that various state agencies may request, and an employer must provide, copies of any documentation relied upon by the employer for the verification of a new employee’s employment eligibility. State agencies may also conduct random I-9 audits beginning July 1, 2024. This means the state of Florida can now investigate and enforce I-9 violations, actions previously reserved only for the federal government.
- With respect to failure to comply, the new law penalizes employers who knowingly employ unauthorized aliens, including quarterly reporting and the suspension or revocation of employer licenses in certain circumstances.
- The law imposes a $1,000 per day fine on employers found to have failed to use E-Verify three times in any 24-month period, until the employer provides proof that the noncompliance is cured. Noncompliance constitutes grounds for the suspension of all licenses issued by a licensing agency until the noncompliance is cured.
- It also requires public agencies that contract with contractors or subcontractors to include in their agreements language that such contractors and subcontractors be required to register with and use the E-Verify system. Similarly, the law prohibits public agencies, contractors, or subcontractors from entering into a contract unless each party to the contract registers with and uses the E-Verify system.
FL 1718 limits access to Florida driver’s and professional licenses for certain people
- The law prohibits a county or municipality from providing funds to any person, entity, or organization for the purpose of issuing an identification card or other document to an individual who does not provide proof of lawful presence in the United States.
- Under the new law, driver licenses issued by another state “exclusively to undocumented immigrants unable to prove lawful presence in the United States when the licenses are issued” are invalid in Florida. Law enforcement officers or authorized representatives of the department must issue a citation to the driver for driving without a license. The department is required to maintain a list on its website of out-of-state classes of driver licenses that are invalid in Florida. There are currently 19 states that issue drivers licenses on this basis, and to the extent that FL 1718 violates the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. constitution has yet to be determined.
- On November 1, 2028, the new law will repeal a statutory provision that currently allows DACA recipients and other undocumented individuals to be admitted to the Florida Bar. The new law will not affect the validity of any license to practice law issued pursuant to that subsection before November 1, 2028.
FL 1718 mandates hospitals that accept Medicaid to collect immigration status information from patients
- FL 1718 requires any hospital that accepts Medicaid to include a question on its admission or registration forms inquiring about whether the patient is a United States citizen, is lawfully present in the United States, or is not lawfully present in the United States. The inquiry must be followed by a statement that the response will not affect patient care or result in a report of the patient’s immigration status to immigration authorities.
- The law also requires hospitals to submit quarterly reports to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration within 30 days after the end of each calendar quarter which reports the number of hospital admissions or emergency department visits within the previous quarter which were made by a patient who indicated that he or she was a citizen of the United States or lawfully present in the United States, was not lawfully present in the United States, or declined to answer.
- The measure also requires the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration to submit a report by March 1 of each year to the Governor, President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives which includes the total number of hospital admissions and emergency department visits for the previous calendar year for which the patient or patient’s representative reported that the patient was a citizen of the United States or lawfully present in the United States, was not lawfully present in the United States, or declined to answer.
 Under the Full Faith and Credit clause, found at Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, courts must recognize – with very few exceptions – laws of other states to prevent conflicts among states.