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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Wants All Employers To Use E-Verify

Governor Ron DeSantis unveiling his fiscal year 2019-2020 budget to the media.
Blaise Gainey

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is calling on state lawmakers to further crack down on undocumented immigration by mandating the use of E-Verify. The effort comes nearly a year after the legislature approved a ban on so-called sanctuary cities which requires local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. 

E-Verify is a federal database used by employers to check an applicant's work eligibility. Currently all Florida state agencies are required to use it. DeSantis wants to expand that requirement to private business owners and employers.

"It’s long standing federal law that in order to be eligible for employment you have to be here lawfully,"  DeSantis explained during a press conference in The Villages. "Maybe you’re a U.S. Citizen, maybe you’re a lawful permanent resident, maybe you’re on a VISA, whatever.  But you have to fit into one of those categories."

DeSantis believes using E-Verify will lead to higher wages, because employers will no longer be able to hire undocumented workers for less.  Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Jacksonville says the program will save citizens money.

"Companies that hire illegal immigrants won’t have workers’ compensation, and they go take their people. They get hurt on their job sites and take them to the local county hospital you know who ends up paying for their healthcare?" said Boyd. "Floridians pay for that care."

Byrd, along with Gov. DeSantis and Florida Republican Party Chairman and Sen. Joe Gruters, say the bill isn’t anti-immigrant. Shortly after the announcement, The American Business Immigration Coalition issued a statement arguing E-Verify doesn’t work. The organization points to a nationwide study done by the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. The public policy think tank found 58,000 workers couldn’t get jobs because of an error with E-Verify in 2018. More than a third of those cases took a week to resolve.