DeSantis presses for E-Verify system

Speaking to a group of supporters at The Villages, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday once again vowed to require Florida businesses to use a federal system to check the immigration status of new hires.

Flanked by Sen. Joe Gruters and Rep. Cord Byrd, two key Republican lawmakers who helped the governor deliver a ban on so-called sanctuary cities this spring, DeSantis said mandating E-Verify will be the next step in deterring undocumented immigrants from coming to Florida.

“The fact is that the number one reason why we have illegal immigration is because of an employment magnet,” the governor said. “I support things like a wall, but really, the number one reason why you see a flow is because of that (employment).”

DeSantis has made a priority of the controversial proposal ahead of the 2020 legislative session, which starts in January. But Senate President Bill Galvano has expressed caution about approving the measure, saying last month its passage is “not guaranteed.”

Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, has filed legislation (SB 664) that would require all private employers to use E-Verify. Gruters, a Sarasota senator who doubles as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, is co-sponsoring the legislation. Byrd, R-Neptune Beach, has yet to file an E-Verify bill in the House. He told the News Service of Florida on Friday he is still working on drafting the proposal and will “file soon.”

House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, has not responded to requests for comment about where he stands on the issue. In the past, E-Verify proposals have been fiercely opposed by the construction, agriculture and tourism industries and have not passed. 

A coalition of business leaders, chaired by South Florida health-care executive Mike Fernandez, sent a letter this year to DeSantis, Galvano and Oliva asking them to oppose the “notoriously flawed” system. DeSantis, however, has stuck to his support of E-Verify, saying the hiring of “cheap, illegal labor” needs to stop.

© 2019 The News Service of Florida.