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Migrant workers said to be leaving Florida over new immigration law

Migrant workers could leave Florida over new law
Migrant workers said to be leaving Florida over restrictive new driver’s license law 02:35

Miami — A controversial Florida law which took effect Saturday no longer recognizes driver's licenses issued to undocumented immigrants from other states, among other restrictions.

It is part of a sweeping immigration bill signed by Republican Florida governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis back in May that is prompting many to leave the state.

The run-up to the new law has sparked protests by immigrant workers, from those in the tourism and hospitality industry, to those who work in agricultural fields.

"We are hearing people are starting to leave," Yvette Cruz with the Farmworkers Association of Florida told CBS News of reports of migrant workers abandoning fields and construction projects. "We're just gonna keep seeing that more as the law will take effect."

The law also includes harsh penalties for those who try and hire or transport undocumented migrants, which critics say can include family members.

It also requires hospitals that receive Medicaid funds to ask for a patient's immigration status.

DeSantis claims the legislation is needed due to what he considers the Biden's administration's failure to secure the border.

"At the end of the day, you wouldn't have the illegal immigration problem if you didn't have a lot of people who were facilitating this in our country," DeSantis recently said during a campaign rally.

For farmworkers like Ofelia Aguilar, who is undocumented but has children who are U.S. citizens — including an 8-year-old son — the new law sparks fear of separation.

"I'm not going to leave my son behind," Aguilar said. "If I leave, my son is coming with me."

Aguilar said she recently fell off a truck while on the job, and was bedridden with a back injury for two weeks. However, she did not seek medical care for fear she'd be asked about her immigration status.

The Florida Policy Institute estimates that nearly 10% of workers in Florida's most labor-intensive industries are undocumented, leaving employers and workers uncertain about the future the new law will create.

The law was one of more than 200 signed by DeSantis which took effect Saturday and impact areas including abortion, education and guns. 

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