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Florida lawmakers continue debating a bill targeting illegal immigration

News Service of Florida

A Senate committee is considering a proposal that would take a series of steps aimed at curbing illegal immigration.

A similar bill passed a House committee Monday.

The plan would stiffen requirements on businesses to check the immigration status of workers, crack down on bringing undocumented immigrants into the state and require hospitals to collect data about whether patients are in the country legally.

The bills have reignited debate about what the state’s role should be — if any — in addressing illegal immigration.

Governor Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for president in 2024, has frequently criticized federal immigration policies and pushed for the state to take action.

State Representative Kiyan Michael is the House bill sponsor.

“We simply have got a crisis in our nation, and we cannot as lawmakers ignore that there’s a crisis,” Michael said.

But opponents, including Representative Dotie Joseph, feel the legislation will hurt businesses and immigrants and is rooted in DeSantis’ political ambition.

“I’m tired of this body leaning into these culture wars, as opposed to dealing with the real issues that we have for Floridians that are already in this state that are U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents,” Joseph said.

DeSantis and the Legislature have passed a series of changes in recent years to target illegal immigration, including a 2019 law that banned so-called sanctuary cities.

The state also drew national headlines last year, when the DeSantis administration flew 49 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

The House bill includes 12 million dollars for similar efforts during the fiscal year that will start July 1st.

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