Videos circulating on social media show several construction sites in Florida abandoned by immigrant workers allegedly because of the state’s new immigration law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis last week.
The bill provides $12 million for DeSantis’ migrant relocation initiative, which drew national attention last year when the governor flew a group of South American migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, a move intended to protest federal immigration policy.
The measure also expands requirements for businesses with more than 25 staffers to use E-Verify, a federal system that determines if employees can legally work in the U.S. It prohibits local governments from providing money to organizations that issue identification cards to people illegally in the country and invalidates out-of-state driver’s licenses held by undocumented immigrants.
Local 10′s Hatzel Vela went searching for answers, stopping at two Home Depots, where it is common to see laborers waiting for work.
Many of them are Cubans who are waiting for their immigration paperwork to be processed and would not go on camera.
One man said he was not in favor of the law and called it discriminatory against migrants. He said people are scared and said the number of workers outside places like Home Depot has dwindled.
Another worker, originally from Havana, said there was fear. But he thinks this may increase pay for workers who do have papers, as there will be less competition from those who don’t.
Last week, Local 10 News checked in with migrant advocates who warned about the devastating effects the new law may have on agriculture and prices at the grocery store.
Because of fear, they believe farm and hospitality workers may go elsewhere and create an economic gap in Florida.
“We know that the core economic engines of South Florida: agriculture, construction, hospital, and tourism are being staffed by immigrant workers. It’s immigrant workers who allow South Florida’s economy to be made possible,” said Oscar Londoño, We Count! Co-Executive Director.
On Monday, DeSantis was asked about migrants fleeing the state. He didn’t directly address the issue, but said: “You can’t build a strong economy based on illegality.”