MIAMI - It's titled Senate Bill 1718 -- a proposed law that would make it a felony for anyone in the state of Florida to transport an undocumented migrant.
This includes having an undocumented migrant in your car, home, business or place of worship.
"What it does is, anybody who is trying to give somebody a ride, you now have to have this understanding of what their immigration status is," said David Metellus, Director of Policy and Politics of FLIC Votes.
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Blaise Ingoglia said this when discussing the bill last month:
"I feel for the immigrant community. I feel for the illegal immigrant community," he said. "This is the point we are at now. We have to fix this system, and they continue to refuse to do it. They will only act when they have to and when an external force pushes back. Florida is that external force right now."
If the law passes, anyone found breaking it could spend up to five years behind bars. While those who support the bill say it's an effort to address the ongoing crisis Florida is facing with undocumented immigration and human smuggling. Those against it believe it can lead to racial discrimination and other issues.
"This is something that we're very concerned with, we've all seen that this is language that is very similar to the fugitive slave act of 1850, where you deputize everyday citizens to report to enforce federal government sort of enforcement activities," said Metellus.
Religious leaders and institutions are now also voicing their opinions on the bill and their concerns about their churchgoers.
Friday, the Archdiocese of Miami released this statement on behalf of Archbishop Wenski that reads in part:
"Tallahassee's SB1718 offers no solutions to the real and growing concerns at the southern border but will bring real harm to Florida's businesses, houses of worship, schools, public health and safety as well as to the migrants themselves.
For example, the bill would criminalize "empathy" by expanding the definition of "human smuggling." anyone offering a ride to an undocumented migrant from church, school or workplace could be charged with a third-degree felony."
Immigration advocacy groups say they're trying to spread information about this bill to prevent citizens and undocumented migrants from going to jail.
"Our role is to inform the public, we do info-sessions, making people understand what this law is, what is coming down the pike, and then we make sure that people know their rights," said Metellus.
We reached out to Republican State Senator Blaise Ingoglia, who crafted the bill, but we have not yet heard back.
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