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Florida's tough new immigration law could lead to labor shortage

Florida's new immigration law could cause labor shortage
Florida's new immigration law could cause labor shortage 02:08

MIAMI - Florida's so-called "toughest in the nation" immigration law takes effect July 1st, and there's concern it could cause a major agriculture and construction labor shortage.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Florida already has 53 available workers for every 100 open jobs, landing the state in the "more severe" category of labor shortage.

Some effects of the upcoming law are already taking shape

Pedro Marcos from Guatemala, who is sticking it out as a laborer, said he knows two former co-workers who left the state after Governor Ron DeSantis signed the new restrictive immigration law.

"The truth? I'm not planning to leave. I'm going to stay. I just want politicians to understand us. We do the work nobody else wants to do," he said.

Marcos said the construction work he had in Miami dried up after his employers got scared.

The new law requires companies with 25 or more employees to use E-Verify when hiring. Those who don't check eligibility face fines and a suspended license to operate. Workers who use a fake ID to get a job could get charged with a felony.

The Florida Policy Institute estimates the state's most labor-intensive industries could lose 10 percent of their workforce, costing the state $12.6 billion dollars in one year.

"The economy will suffer if they are forced to leave the state," said Dr. Franciso Larios, a Nicaraguan community lead and professor of economics at Miami Dade College.

The law impacts healthcare, too. Hospitals accepting Medicaid will be required to check immigrants' status.

The all-volunteer Caridad Center in Boynton Beach is the largest free clinic in the state, providing healthcare for immigrants. Its staff is worried about the impacts of the new law.

"It's hard enough for these people to come in to get care, and if there's anything put in their way, they won't come in. Whatever problems they have will get worse," said Dr. Steven Koenig, an ophthalmologist at the center.

The law also makes it a felony to transport undocumented immigrants into Florida which could impact mixed-status married couples or farm workers who travel together. The new law also invalidates out-of-state driver's licenses issued to undocumented people. 

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