Statement by UnidosUS on the Florida Legislature’s Passage of SB 168

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—UnidosUS (formerly NCLR) issued the following statement in response to the Florida legislature’s passage of SB 168, legislation that will effectively require local and state law enforcement to serve as federal immigration agents and ban “sanctuary city” policies, though none exist in the state. UnidosUS and its Florida Affiliate Network vehemently oppose this legislation, which is now headed to the governor’s desk.

Since the bill was introduced late last year, UnidosUS and its Affiliates have been working with legislators on both sides of the aisle in Tallahassee to vote in Florida‘s best interest and against this proposal, which demonizes immigrants and Latinos, and attempts to fuel division. These efforts included our lobby day where our Affiliates met with 28 key legislators on why this bill is bad for Florida’s economy, public safety and families, and asked policymakers to instead focus on education, health and housing policies that will help all Floridians prosper.

“This anti-immigrant legislation has been widely condemned by Florida businesses, local law enforcement, and faith and nongovernmental organizations across the state. Governor DeSantis campaigned on always going to bat for Florida, and he now has a chance to live up to those words by vetoing this bill, or show he’s more interested in divide-and-conquer politics that put the state economy and our people at risk.

“SB 168 remains a reckless measure that stands to disproportionately impact the lives of millions of Floridians by fostering racial profiling and unequal treatment under the law. It’s a policy based on misinformation and toxic rhetoric that in practice would create a hostile environment for immigrants, undermine trust in law enforcement, and potentially cause workers in critical industries such as tourism, agriculture and construction to leave the Sunshine State. Moreover, if the legislation becomes law, it would put all Latinos in the crosshairs of racial profiling—residents and tourists alike, regardless of immigration status—leading to harassment and rights violations that will impact the state’s reputation and economy.

“The local economic and human impacts will be devastating. Bipartisan data tells us that nearly all undocumented immigrants in Florida are of working age and pay more than a billion dollars each year in taxes. The costs of losing a significant portion of these workers could be substantial. Additionally, Florida’s reputation of a welcoming state will be irrevocably tarnished and will impact the pocketbooks of all Florida workers and consumers.

“Florida’s economy depends on immigrant and Hispanic entrepreneurs and workers, and now is the time to embrace and support their contributions to our state, instead of persecuting them.”

–Jared Nordlund, Florida Senior Strategist for Civic Engagement, UnidosUS