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New law against undocumented immigrants in Florida raises concern: what does the rule that DeSantis signed include?

(CNN) — Concern is growing among immigrants in Florida after Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed into law tough new legislation against illegal immigration last week.

Under the measure, anyone transporting someone who entered the country illegally could face a five-year prison sentence or a $5,000 fine per person. It also requires companies with at least 25 employees to verify the immigration status of workers in a federal database called E-Verify, and creates penalties for employers who knowingly hire “unauthorized aliens.”

There is already alarm and confusion among Florida’s immigrant worker communities, even though the law only takes effect until July.

Neza Xiuhtecutli of the Florida Farm Workers Association told CNN that some immigrants are concerned that the law “makes them more vulnerable and exposes them to exploitation.”

Xiuhtecutli says he can’t confirm rumors of workers avoiding Florida en masse, but says he has heard reports of some “choosing to stay out” on a smaller scale.

Several social media posts have also surfaced claiming to show vacancies in places and farms where immigrants traditionally work. Posts appeared on TikTok from people claiming to be Latino truckers saying they will refuse to bring goods to Florida in protest of the new law.

Florida Immigrant Coalition deputy director Renata Bozzetto told CNN: “We are still working with our member organizations to find out the extent of these social media reports.”

“We know that the bill did indeed put the community in a state of fear: multiple people contact our hotline, social media, and hotlines with questions and comments. However, we have not received any reports from businessmen or farm owners on the subject,” Bozzetto explained.

What does the new Florida anti-immigrant law say?

The controversial and ambitious immigration bill, introduced by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in February, was approved by the state Legislature several weeks ago. According to DeSantis, the law will serve to take action against the growing threat posed by illegal immigration as a result, as the governor proclaims, of the failure of the Joe Biden administration to secure the borders.

On the one hand, the law seeks to provide US$ 12 million to DeSantis’s controversial migrant flight program, which became known nationally after in September of last year some 50 immigrants on a flight from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

In addition, the bill provides for criminal penalties for persons who conceal, harbor, transport, or protect those who entered the United States illegally. It also says that some driver’s licenses and IDs issued by other states to undocumented immigrants will not be valid in Florida. It requires some hospitals to request information about the immigration status of patients in admission records and increases the maximum fine for employing, hiring or referring illegal immigrants for public or private positions.

Democrats tried to smooth over the most controversial points of the bill by introducing a series of amendments that the Republican majority in the state House of Representatives later rejected.

With information from Ana Maria Mejia, from CNN en Espanol.

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