New Florida bill would crack down on hiring undocumented workers

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Some are concerned that a Florida Senate bill cracking down on hiring undocumented immigrants would land too harshly on business owners.

Hiring hasn’t been easy for Todd Brooks, owner of Brooks Burgers. And he worries he will have trouble keeping the current employees at his three Collier County locations if SB 1718 passes.

“We’re struggling for employees,” Brooks said. “I just don’t get it, it makes no sense to me whatsoever; it seems backwards.”

The bill calls for the overhaul of the state’s immigration laws. One provision would increase punishments for employers who hire undocumented people, even allowing law enforcement to audit businesses to make sure they’re following the law.

“We check IDs,” Brooks said. “But now we have to become professionals at checking what real IDs look like and don’t look like?”

Collier County Democratic Committee Chair Jane Schlechtweg agrees. She believes the measure would hurt Brooks’ business and many others.

“I think it will have a huge impact here in Collier County,” Schlectweg said. “We rely on immigrants to, you know, do the services that people don’t want to do—cut lawns or wait on tables or clean houses.”

Seed to Table owner Alfie Oakes tells WINK News the bill would not impact him at all, because he says he does not hire undocumented workers.

“It is a shame because you look at it from both ends: The folks are… they’re obviously getting paid, but then… and then there’s so much work to be done,” Oakes said. “But, I mean, we’ve got to put these rules in place to make it fair for everyone.”

Florida lawmakers who support the bill say that’s exactly what it will do.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are roughly 772,000 undocumented immigrants living in Florida. The bill would also make it a third-degree felony to “transport” or “harbor” undocumented workers.

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