The battle over immigration is usually viewed as a strictly federal issue, but several states have recently enacted laws that have a significant impact on immigrants. Florida, in an effort to assist Gov. Ron DeSantis in his pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination, has passed a law that prohibits an immigrant who does not have an approved status from using a driver’s license issued by a state that issues such licenses to unauthorized immigrants.
The states who have issued such licenses include Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Criticism and praise
The law also denies state funding to individuals or organizations that issue purported identification documents to individuals in the United States without proof of having obtained a lawful presence in the country. The President of Mexico criticized the law as an act of “racial profiling” and a hate crime. A Mexican government spokesman criticized the law by saying, “Criminalization is not the way to solve the issue of undocumented immigration.”
For his part, DeSantis praised the law as “the strongest anti-illegal immigration legislation in the country.”
Penalties for violation
Anyone convicted of violating the law will face traffic citations and other penalties. Media reports of the law do not explain whether the new law precisely defines the term “lawful presence” in the United States.
A knowledgeable immigration attorney may be helpful in fighting charges under the law. The law effectively requires local traffic officers to know and interpret federal immigration law, which can be maddingly complex. An immigration attorney can effectively fight an accusation that a person is in the country illegally.