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The Mexican President lambasts a new Florida bill. Photos: Getty Images.

Florida’s controversial immigration bill garners ‘immoral’ label from Mexico President

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As the U.S.-Mexico border braces for what is expected to be a high volume migrant crossings as a result of the court-ordered lift of the Trump-era Title 42 on Thursday, May 11, Florida has a new sweeping anti-immigration bill, among other provisions, providing the 2024 Presidential hopeful and governor Ron DeSantis $12 million to increase his migrant transportation program 

Senate Bill 1718, expected to be signed soon by the governor, caught a stray from Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who labeled the bill, “immoral” and “politicking” during a press conference, criticizing the state legislature’s decision on May 2 to sign off on the bill that’ll carry implications for Florida’s immigrant Latino population as well as businesses. 

“Why does [DeSantis] have to take advantage of people’s pain, of migrants’ pain, of people’s need for political gain,” said AMLO. “This is immoral. This is politicking.”

He went on to also call the legislation "repressive, inhumane measures.” 

Among several measures, the bill requires medium-sized and large employers to use the federal E-Verify system to check the documented status of all new employees. 

Failure to comply, such as knowingly continuing to employ that person or hiring them in the first place, could result in a $10,000 fine per violation, including revocation of one’s business license. 

It would also deny migrants from driving a car even if they have a driver’s license from another state. Anyone knowingly transporting an undocumented migrant out of state faces being charged with human trafficking. 

The bill also mandates hospitals to ask patients about their citizenship status. All state facilities that accept Medicaid will be required to submit quarterly reports on their undocumented patients. 

The bill states: "Each hospital that accepts Medicaid must include a provision on its patient admission or registration forms for the patient or the patient's representative to state or indicate whether the patient is a United States citizen or lawfully present in the United States or is not lawfully present in the United States. The inquiry must be followed by a statement that the response will not affect patient care or result in a report of the patient's immigration status to immigration authorities." 

AMLO also made sure to take a shot at the two-term Governor’s anticipated — but not yet officially announced — 2024 Presidential bid. 

“Now I found out that the Florida governor — imagine, Florida, which is full of migrants — is taking repressive, inhumane measures against migrants in Florida because he wants to be a candidate,” he added. “Can’t he not make another proposal to convince people?”

DeSantis took some steps on Tuesday, May 9, that suggest an announcement could soon be on the way. 

He has seemingly ended his affiliation with his long-standing political action committee (PAC) — Friends of Ron DeSantis — that possesses over tens of millions of unusable dollars not allowed to fund a federal race because state law does not limit how much someone can give to a political committee or the source of the donations. 

However, the money could be transferred to a super PAC backing the governor if he’s no longer affiliated with the political committee.

In an effort to possibly rebrand the committee, their website was changed on Tuesday morning to say that its mission is “committed to advancing the Freedom Agenda and keeping Florida free.” 

The website also says that the committee is now associated with state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia and not DeSantis. The committee on Tuesday also filed paperwork that says the Senator is replacing a Tampa accountant as chair of the organization.

The Florida Governor is currently embroiled in several lawsuits regarding a few of his most notorious anti-immigration, transphobic, homophobic, and racist laws. But the legal litigations have not seemed to slow down the controversial figure from signing off on similar restricting legislations. 

DeSantis signed bills SB 264, SB 846, and SB 258 into law this past Monday that bans Chinese citizens from buying land in the state. 

Referred to as Interests of Foreign Countries, SB 264 will prohibit “governmental entities from contracting with foreign countries and entities of concern and restricts conveyances of agricultural lands and other interests in real property to foreign principals,” which include the People’s Republic of China and other affiliated entities. 

In regards to migration, AMLO will have a chance to voice his frustrations during his call planned tomorrow with President Joe Biden to also discuss the fentanyl crisis.

“We will talk about our cooperation, which is very good, very, very good, and we will keep it that way,” López Obrador said.

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