web analytics

Florida immigrants detail their exit following DeSantis immigration law: ‘I had to leave’

The new immigration law in Florida, SB 1718, has caused many immigrants to leave their homes and businesses behind. The law, which goes into effect on July 1, imposes strict restrictions and penalties to deter the employment of undocumented workers in the state. Many immigrants, who have lived in Florida for years, are now leaving the state to avoid the consequences of the new law.

Photo credit: A woman carries a sign that reads:

David Guerra, a construction worker from El Salvador, left Florida with his family in May, leaving behind their home, furniture, and construction tools. Guerra said that the law has hurt his family the most because his daughters no longer have toys. Of the 10 people who lived in the Guerra house, only three children were U.S. citizens. The others didn’t have legal immigration status.

Photo credit: Maria Fernanda moved to New York from Florida in April.Courtesy Maria Fernanda

Guerra is not the only one who has left Florida. (nbcnews.com) In various cities across the state, many immigrants say they have at least one acquaintance, friend, or neighbor who left after the law was passed. Some have posted their exile on social networks.

Photo credit: For the first time in more than 18 years, Berta said she’s afraid of living in the U.S.Anagilmara Vílchez / Noticias Telemundo

The Florida Policy Institute has stated that the legislation could cost Florida’s economy $12.6 billion in one year. Six industries, including construction, agriculture, and services, employ an estimated 391,000 undocumented workers, or about 10% of workers in those sectors.

The law has caused fear and confusion among immigrants. Even though the law hasn’t yet taken effect, the Florida Immigration Coalition has already received complaints that some clinics have been asking patients about their immigration status, even though only hospitals that accept Medicaid are required to ask about immigration status, and patients may decline to answer the question.

Many immigrants have left Florida because they fear what could happen when the law takes effect. Maria Fernanda, a 25-year-old undocumented immigrant from Colombia, left Florida with her boyfriend for New York. She said, “I don’t want to go through that fear or that need to see a policeman that can deport me or that they can stop me or ask me for my documents.”

It’s difficult to know the number of immigrants who have left the state. Local communities and leaders base counts on what they hear by word of mouth: a neighbor who left his house, a worker who never came to work. Rosa Elera, of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said, “This is happening at such a fast level that we don’t have a concrete number.”

The law has caused families to be separated, and some have abandoned their pets and belongings. (floridapolicy.org) Berta, an undocumented Guatemalan mother, who picks tomatoes, chiles, squash, and eggplants in the searing heat, said, “We are used to working here without anyone scaring us. (nbcnews.com) Now, when I see police, I am afraid that they will stop us, detain us, and call the immigration authorities.”

The law has caused immigrants to leave their homes, businesses, and belongings behind. Starting from scratch in another state is more difficult for many immigrants because they don’t speak Spanish or English. Guerra said, “It hurt, it hurt to have to throw everything out. It’s a humiliation what they did, to take you out, like a rat.”

The law has caused many immigrants to feel damaged and hurt. (www-telemundo-com.translate.goog) However, they have found comfort in knowing that they could give away some of their family’s belongings to other immigrants in need. Guerra said, “Starting from scratch is very sad.”