New Laws In Florida Seen Fueling Exodus of Immigrants as DeSantis Toughens Discourse

A package of 200 laws proposed by Governor Ron DeSantis comes into effect on July 1, and which range from stemming immigration and suppressing diversity to easing firearm restrictions

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
June 30, 2023 | 06:45 PM

Bloomberg Línea — A package of 200 laws will go into effect this Saturday, July 1 in the US state of Florida, promoted by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and approved in the 2023 legislative sessions but, among them, those that threaten the rights of immigrants, limit diversity and undermine citizen security stand out.

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A record budget of $116.5 billion was approved for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, of which $12 million will be destined to the relocation of undocumented immigrants, as Texas did in recent weeks by relocating a group of people to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

DeSantis has spoken of his desire to put an end to illegal immigration, lambasting President Joe Biden’s alleged negligence in the matter in a number of recent tweets as part of his bid to win the Republican nomination as presidential candidate in 2024.

The laws that are causing the most controversy:

  • Illegal immigration: Law 1718 will penalize with up to 15 years those who transport undocumented immigrants to Florida and those who hire them. On the other hand, it obliges hospitals and clinics to collect information on the immigration status of their patients. In turn, companies will have to use a system to identify the legal status of their workers
  • Sale of firearms: A permit will no longer be required to carry concealed firearms in public places. Also, credit card companies will be prevented from tracking firearms and ammunition sales through a ‘separate commercial’ category code at gun stores. Florida thus became the 26th state to uphold gun carry
  • Use of public restrooms and lockers: Individuals will be required to access public restrooms aligned with their birth sex, not their gender identity
  • Gender: Prohibition of gender affirmation treatments for minors under 18 years of age, and school employees will not be able to ask young people the pronoun with which they identify
  • Diversity: Public universities will be prohibited from allocating funds for programs that promote diversity, inclusion and equity
  • Sex education: Discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools is prohibited until eighth grade
  • Death penalty: Unanimous recommendation of a jury will no longer be necessary for the application of the death penalty. Only eight votes in favor will suffice. In addition, those convicted of child rape with aggravating factors may be punished by execution
  • ESG. Government investment strategies that take into account “environmental, social and governance” standards are prohibited
  • TikTok. Prohibits use of the social network on devices owned by school districts and through district-provided internet access.

Exodus of immigrants

Given the imminent implementation of these laws, especially those that promote the exclusion of undocumented immigrants, for weeks entire families of immigrants have been leaving Florida to settle in other states, since they see themselves as being potentially affected by the measures.


According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are around 1.8 million undocumented immigrants in Florida, which includes non-US citizens and those with legal status, making up more than 8% of the state’s population.

This could strongly impact industrial, service and construction activity, since many migrants are employed in those areas, and as a consequence would have a negative effect on the state’s economy.

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