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A bill working its way through the Florida Legislature would criminalize the “knowing[] and willful[]” transportation of undocumented immigrants “into or within” the state. If enacted, Senate Bill (SB) 1718 could impact Florida’s hospitality and agricultural sectors.

SB 1718 would amend Title XLVI of the Florida Statutes, Section 787.07, to provide criminal penalties for “persons who knowingly and willfully violate, or who reasonably should know and who violate, certain provisions relating to the transporting into or within [Florida]” of illegal immigrants. The proposed amendment would also criminalize the “concealing, harboring, or shielding from detection, or the attempt thereof,” of undocumented immigrants. These actions would be considered a third-degree felony under the proposed amendment.

A separate offense would be committed for each undocumented immigrant transported, concealed, harbored, or shielded from detection. An individual “who commits five or more separate offenses” during a single episode could be charged with a second-degree felony.

The proposed amendment would require those arrested for its violation to be held in custody until their appearance in court for pretrial release.

The proposed amendment is reminiscent of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, enacted in 2010, which also contained a provision imposing penalties on people who sheltered, hired, and transported unregistered aliens. That provision was ultimately struck down in 2012 by the Supreme Court of the United States, which held that it violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

If enacted, the new law would take effect on July 1, 2023.

Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor SB 1718 and other immigration policy developments and will post updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.


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