One Year of SB 1718

On May 10, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law SB 1718, a sweeping law targeting Florida’s immigrant community. Its harmful measures impacted families, the hospital and medical care industry, and businesses throughout Florida. Immigrants and families were afraid to seek routine and emergency medical care, drive with valid out-of-state licenses, and travel with undocumented members of the community. U.S. employers with a Florida-based immigrant workforce feared penalties and the loss of employees providing essential labor.

Most of the law’s provisions took effect one year ago, on July 1, 2023. In the past year, AI Justice has seen the profound impact this law has had on our community, and the negative effects it has had on the children, families, and workers we support. As soon as the law passed, undocumented immigrants and their families and communities were suddenly unsafe and unable to go about their daily lives. Many fled from the state of Florida. In fact, the loss of workers left key state industries reeling and prompted Florida lawmakers—the very same elected members who had voted to pass SB 1718—to emphasize the law’s loopholes and downplay its negative and significant effects on our state and economy.

As an advocate for Florida’s immigrant communities, AI Justice has been a leader in fighting against this anti-immigrant law. In July 2023, the same month it took effect, we joined forces with other organizations and challenged in federal court the constitutionality of the SB 1718 provision that criminalized transporting certain immigrants into the state. In May 2024, the court agreed with our arguments and temporarily blocked this provision of the law.

AI Justice continues to work with advocates and community organizations to help ensure that Floridians know their rights and understand how this law can and cannot affect their rights. For example, we worked with fellow advocates to launch a “Decline to Answer” campaign, encouraging Floridians—citizens and non-citizens alike—to refuse to provide hospitals with their immigration status upon admission. AI Justice analyzed how the Florida DMV was recognizing lawful out-of-state licenses and their continued validity within our state. We monitored state prosecutions related to travel with undocumented persons, as well as other key harmful provisions that continue to impact the Florida community. One year after the passage of SB 1718, AI Justice is proud to remain steadfast in fighting against this state law and fighting for the rights of Florida’s immigrants and families.