DeSantis Sued by Farmers for Illegal Immigrant Driver's License Ban

DeSantis Sued by Farmers for Illegal Immigrant Driver's License Ban

DeSantis doubles down on illegal immigration, Florida reacts

Jim McCool
Jim McCool
July 11, 2023

The 2023 legislative session was a busy one for Florida Republicans, as Governor Ron DeSantis pushed through his entire political and legislative agenda. But perhaps the most misunderstood action from this year was the invalidation of driver's licenses from select states.  Here is how Governor DeSantis' (R-FL) new immigration law works, and why it is so controversial.

When it hit the headlines that states like Vermont or Delaware would no longer have valid driver's licenses in Florida, controversy arose.  However, the legislation is only subject to undocumented immigrants and not United States citizens or residents, as one could incorrectly assume.

The law which took effect on July 1st is a part of an even bigger picture of Governor DeSantis' attempts of fighting illegal immigration tooth and nail.  The bill prohibits the issuance of a driver's license to anyone who does not provide proof of lawful presence in the U.S. and specifies that out-of-state driver licenses issued exclusively to undocumented immigrants are invalid in Florida, NBC 6 South Florida reported.

Five states are specifically outlined because of their track record on illegal immigration and the types of driver's licenses that are considered invalid by the state of Florida:

  • Connecticut Licenses that indicate "Not for federal identification"
  • Hawaii "Limited purpose driver's licenses" or "Limited instruction permit"
  • Delaware "Driving privilege only" or "Not valid for identification"
  • Rhode Island "Not for federal identification" or "Driver privilege card" or "Driver privilege permit"
  • Vermont "Not for real ID purposes driver's privilege card" or "Not for real ID purposes junior driver’s privilege card” or “Not for real ID purposes learner’s privilege card”

While the law has other caveats, such as strengthening E-verify practices for employers, activists have specifically challenged the apparent banning of driver's licenses, taking it to court.  A lawsuit is in the works right now by legal advocates of immigrants, who have stated the law, "was designed to keep an already vulnerable group susceptible to abuse and exploitation."

Among those parties listed in the lawsuit filing is the Farmworkers Association of Florida which maintains the law only violates the fundamental rights of people in the state, but undermines the cultural richness and economic contributions of immigrants.

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Jim McCool

Jim McCool

Jim is a graduate of Florida State University where he studied Political Science, Religion and Criminology. He has been a reporter for the Floridian since January of 2021 and will start law school in 2024.

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