Hurricane Idalia

Florida’s Controversial Immigration Laws May Slow Hurricane Idalia Cleanup

Florida’s controversial SB 1718 law is not helping the much-needed Hurricane Idalia cleanup.

The law, which is cracking down on migrants being in the state illegally, is stopping undocumented workers from rebuilding what Idalia destroyed, NBC News reported.

UBS Bank reported that damages from Idalia may surpass $9 billion, and the areas that were hit hard by the natural disaster are neighborhoods with a major Latino and Black Caribbean immigrant population. Perry, Florida, hotel workers like Maggie Vidal are worried DeSantis’ law will stop them from coming back.

“This is where all the immigrants that the governor wants to push out are needed,” Vidal said. “Who is going to do all of this work? There is a lot, a lot of work here.”

The strict immigration law, which went into effect on July 1, 2023, makes it a felony to “knowingly and willfully” transport undocumented persons into the state, including relatives and friends. Out-of-state driver’s licenses issued to immigrants who lack legal status are invalid and require hospitals that accept Medicaid to inquire about immigration status.

Since the bill was passed, several farm and construction workers have moved out.

Immigrant rights organizations have sent letters to DeSantis’ administration requesting that “a public statement be issued suspending immigration enforcement by state and local authorities,” particularly in areas where a state of emergency has been declared and residents are prone to evacuate and return to their homes after the storm.

“We urge Governor DeSantis to demonstrate strong leadership by ensuring that no one is deterred from accessing shelter and necessary assistance due to immigration concerns,” said the Florida Immigrant Coalition’s Paula Muñoz.

While immigrants fleeing flooded Florida may have found temporary refuge in New York, they still live in fear. According to Documented NY, many have heard rumors of immigration raids constantly taking place back in their Florida neighborhoods.