Nonprofit issues travel advisory warning immigrants away from Florida

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A nonprofit known as the Florida Immigrant Coalition issued a travel advisory against immigrants coming to Florida, as it believes the state is unsafe for people from outside the U.S.

The advisory is in response to a proposed bill that would harden penalties against undocumented immigrants and people who help them.

“Our goal is to protect people,” said Tessa Petit with the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “Our goal is to let people know, ‘Please, be careful.'”

By protecting people, Petit means people who are undocumented and thinking about coming to Florida.

“This is how Florida is turning; this is what Florida is becoming,” Petit said. “If you are a person of color, if you have a family member who’s undocumented, if you have… anything that puts you on that list, at risk, please be aware.”

Petit’s warning is a result of the proposed Senate Bill 1718 and House Bill 1617. These would fine employers for hiring undocumented workers, fine landlords or people who help house them, reject out-of-state licenses and require hospitals to ask for patients’ immigration status.

“This is an extensive bill that appears to gain control over undocumented aliens in the state to make sure that they are not receiving benefits… that they’re not entitled to, that they are not working without proper authorization, that they do not get identification from the state,” said Pamella Seay, an attorney and a law professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Republican State Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, who introduced SB 1718, says it would protecting Florida from a crisis at the border.

“The challenge that all states should have, and probably take up this challenge, is making sure that we take away some of these incentives that are… that are incentivizing people to come over illegally,” Ingoglia said.

Those who would violate the bill would have to pay a heavy price.

“You’re looking at fines that range anywhere from $1,000 up to $10,000 for each individual violation—that can add up,” Seay said.

Seay does not think SB 1718 is likely to pass, at least not in the current legislative session.

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