Thursday, December 31, 2020
79.3 F
Ocala

E-Verify law once pushed by DeSantis in mega-retirement community goes into effect

Florida is starting off the new year with a law in place aimed at battling the hiring of illegal immigrants – a measure that was once touted by Gov. Ron DeSantis during a visit to The Villages.

Gov. Ron DeSantis visited The Villages in November 2019 to call for E-Verify legislation to confirm the immigration status of prospective workers in the Sunshine State.

The new law makes it mandatory for government employers – school districts, public universities and colleges, state and local agencies and their private contractors – to use the E-Verify system to confirm that the documentation provided by prospective employees is valid. E-Verify is a federal electronic database that compares information entered by an employer about a new hire with records available to the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to confirm employment eligibility.

Florida passed the E-Verify statute on June 30. Promising its passage was a mainstay of DeSantis campaign when he was running for governor in 2018, including during several stops in The Villages and the Central Florida area. The new law was opposed by some immigrant advocacy groups and business organizations, many of which operate in construction, hospitality and agriculture – all of which are prevalent throughout The Villages and surrounding areas.

Private employers aren’t required to use E-Verify unless they have a contract with a public entity or they apply for taxpayer-funded incentives through the state Department of Economic Opportunity.

DeSantis chose The Villages – a community that often struggles to find lower-wage workers for a variety of jobs – in November 2019 as the setting to make his case for the E-Verify law. He vowed to tackle “cheap illegal labor” during a press conference at the Fenney Recreation Center.

“The number one reason that you have illegal immigration is because of employment,” he said, while flanked by state Sen. Joe Gruters, state Rep. Cord Byrd and “Angel Parents” Vickie Lyon and Kiyan and Bobby Michael, who lost adult children in vehicle crashes with illegal immigrants. “A lot of times there will be businesses that will hire cheap, foreign illegal labor that undercuts American wages.”

During his speech, DeSantis pointed out that a long-standing federal law requires workers to be in the United States legally if they hope to secure employment here.

“I believe the vast majority of people in our state believe that businesses should be hiring Americans and legal immigrants,” he said.

The governor also pointed out that Florida was at the time the only state in the southeastern portion of the country that wasn’t already requiring the use of E-Verify system. He promised use of the system would quickly deter illegal immigrants from wanting to come to the Sunshine State and actually lead to pay increases for lower-wage blue-collar workers.

Gov. Ron DeSantis cited a variety of crime statistics and cases involving the Department of Homeland Security in November 2019 when talking about the importance of the E-Verify system during a visit to The Villages.

DeSantis also tied the importance of enacting the verification system to illegal activities in the state. He cited the Department of Homeland Security busting an organized crime ring in Jacksonville in 2019 that was helping the flow of illegal labor into the state and using shell companies to create a fraudulent workers’ compensation scheme.

“When you have those types of criminal enterprises, you end up seeing money-laundering, fraud, identity theft – all of that goes to what we’re talking about here,” he said.

DeSantis also cited 2018 Homeland Security crime stats in Florida – more 900 criminal arrests; more than 1,400 investigative cases; and 127,000 pounds of narcotics, 365 firearms and more than $14 million in currency seizures.

“At the end of the day, the law is the law,” he said. “You either comply with it or you don’t. And I think in Florida we should be complying with it and have a legal workforce. That’s just the bottom line.”

Photos in Ocala, Florida

Crime

Berserk Silver Springs man behind bars after victim reports rampage

A Silver Springs man was jailed Tuesday night after going on a rampage when his lady friend confronted him about a phone conversation he was having.

Oft-arrested Silver Springs man accused of threatening and strangling woman

A Silver Springs man who has been in and out of the Marion County Jail more than a dozen times over the past 20 years was arrested after he reportedly strangled and threatened to kill a woman early Monday.

Ocala Police seeking four males who may have witnessed violent crime

The Ocala Police Department is seeking the public’s help in locating four people who may have witnessed a recent violent crime.

Troubled Ocala man arrested for third time in 2020

An Ocala man with a violent history was arrested for the third time in 2020 after he allegedly busted a man’s lip during an argument on Sunday.

Business

World Equestrian Center coined ‘Disney World of Horse Industry’ by Marion County Chairman

The Marion County Commission Chairman coined the new World Equestrian Center as the "Disney World of the horse industry" recently.

Plenty of positives despite November’s mixed bag of employment news

The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 6.2 percent in November – up 0.6 percentage point over the month and 2.6 percent higher than the same time last year.

Health inspector shuts down Ocala eatery after finding more than 68 rodent droppings

A health inspector ordered an Ocala restaurant to close its doors recently after finding a large quantity of rodent droppings at the eatery.

Former Brothers’ Keeper building demolished to make way for new Mellow Mushroom

The former home to Brothers’ Keeper Thrift Store has been demolished to make way for a new pizza restaurant.

Subscribe for email updates

* indicates required

Headlines

Berserk Silver Springs man behind bars after victim reports rampage

A Silver Springs man was jailed Tuesday night after going on a rampage when his lady friend confronted him about a phone conversation he was having.

Oft-arrested Silver Springs man accused of threatening and strangling woman

A Silver Springs man who has been in and out of the Marion County Jail more than a dozen times over the past 20 years was arrested after he reportedly strangled and threatened to kill a woman early Monday.

Ocala Police seeking four males who may have witnessed violent crime

The Ocala Police Department is seeking the public’s help in locating four people who may have witnessed a recent violent crime.

Florida ends 2020 with biggest spike in COVID-19 cases since pandemic first reported

Florida ended the year Thursday with the biggest spike in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic first hit the Sunshine State in the spring.

More headlines