© 2024 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Florida Business Leaders Fight Immigration Verification Proposal

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Florida business leaders are pushing back against a potential change to Florida’s constitution. It would require businesses to verify new workers are eligible to work in the U.S.

E-Verifyis a website run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It allows businesses to confirm the eligibility of employees to work in the U.S.

Proposal 29, being considered by the Constitution Revision Commission, would require all Florida businesses to use E-Verify before hiring new employees.

But a coalition of economists and business leaders worry it could cripple Florida’s economy. Members of the Immigration Partnership and Coalition Fund, or IMPAC Fund, include major Republican donor and founder of MBF Healthcare Partners Mike Fernandez, Chairman and CEO of Royal Carribbean Cruises Richard Fain and CNN Political Commentator Ana Navarro. 

Paul DiMare, known as Mr. Tomato, is the largest grower of fresh-market tomatoes in the U.S. He worries workers will leave Florida for other states where such laws don’t exist – leaving many businesses short on employees. 

“Mandatory E-Verify disproportionately burdens Florida’s small business owners and farmers with thousands of dollars in startup costs, workforce disruption and lost hours of work," argues DiMare. "Florida farmers can’t handle that kind of uncertainty in the labor force.” 

But CRC Commissioner Rich Newsome says the proposal protects American jobs and makes sure businesses are following the law.

"It basically makes sure the worker that you hire is legal," says Newsome. "That’s it. That’s all there is to it.” 

Other states have implemented similar laws. But Florida’s economy is largely reliant on tourism and agriculture, both of which employ large numbers of undocumented workers. 

Shawn Mulcahy is a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU. He graduated from Florida State University in 2019 with majors in public relations and political science. He was previously an intern at WFSU, and worked as an Account Coordinator at RB Oppenheim Associates.