Florida’s Illegal Immigrants Surprised About Being Fired for Being Illegal

David A Litman / Shutterstock.com
David A Litman / Shutterstock.com

The day Florida’s immigration laws went into effect started like any other day for an unnamed illegal immigrant. She explains, “That day I went to work like any other normal day. The chef called me and said he had to talk to me. Without an excuse he fired me.” 

When asked what reasons she was given for being fired, she seemed genuinely confused. “I asked him why he was firing me without explanation, and he said he didn’t have one, and I should just get my stuff and leave.” 

Her story is one of many following Florida’s crackdown on illegal immigrants unlawfully working within the state. It seems that, despite knowing that they are breaking the law by working without permits, the firings are catching them by surprise. Illegal immigrants with decades of unauthorized employment in Florida are facing a harsh new reality: it’s not legal to work illegally, and the state is having no more of it. 

On July 1, 2023, new immigration policies were set in motion designed to stop the massive flood into the Sunshine State. These policies largely target undocumented workers and holds employers accountable for keeping illegal immigrants on the payroll.  

Employers with more than 25 employees are required to use E-Verify to determine if their employees can legally work in the United States. If an employer refuses to comply, they face fines of up to $1000 per day and the potential of losing their business license. Illegal immigrants relying on falsified documents to unlawfully obtain a work authorization face criminal penalties under the new law. 

In addition, the sweeping reforms prohibit local governments from funding organizations that give identification cards to illegal immigrants and invalidates driver’s licenses from other states issued to undocumented people. 

Alongside these new laws is verbiage aimed at stopping the transportation of illegals into Florida. Per law, it is a felony to bring undocumented immigrants “knowingly and willfully” across state lines. 

Predictably, supporters of illegal immigration are filing suits against the state of Florida. As legal director of American Immigration Council, Kate Malloy Goettel states in her suit:  

“Florida’s anti-immigrant law perpetuates harmful stereotypes and fosters an atmosphere of fear and hostility. This misguided legislation not only targets immigrants and their families, but it also jeopardizes the fabric of Florida’s communities, as well as the state’s economy. Our lawsuit seeks to ensure the fundamental rights and dignity of every individual in the state — regardless of their immigration status. No one should live in fear or face discrimination based on their immigration status, their presumed immigration status, or the immigration status of their family members.” 

Several industries face labor shortages under the new laws, notably farmers, hospitality workers, and construction contractors. A study released by the Florida Policy Institute predicts that businesses relying on “seasonal workers” could lose 10% of their labor force.  

Renata Bozzetto, deputy director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, explains, “It hasn’t even been two weeks and we are already hearing of farmworkers who left the state and are afraid of coming back.” 

The owner of a nursery in Homestead, Florida, details her experience of losing 50% of her employees, which she relies on to cut grass, maintain the plants, and help customers.

The grass grows, it needs fertilizer and care, and I won’t be able to do it alone. I could lose my business,” she explains. “I’m by myself, no one arrived today. I’m scared because I don’t know how I’ll be able to run my business. I’ll do my best. I have no choice.” 

While supporters of illegal immigration claim that undocumented workers generate revenue for the United States, the reality is a little different. As one illegal immigrant explained, “I’m the head of my household, I am the one who works hard to send money to my country for my family there.” 

Fundación 15 de Septiembre“ is a nonprofit organization run by Juan Flores. He recently travelled across Florida to survey undocumented workers and found that 4 out of 10 were leaving the state. “We found out some went to Atlanta, Georgia, others left for North Carolina, and some left for New York,” Flores reported, adding, “Some of them left with up to five family members.” 

This is proof that DeSantis’ tough new immigration laws are doing exactly what they are intended to do: force undocumented workers to move out of Florida. If more states enact laws like Florida’s, illegal immigrants will have no choice but to move to “sanctuary” cities and states. 

Unfortunately, these liberal strongholds have admitted they are unprepared and unwilling to care for the flood of people they once welcomed from afar.