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    DeSantis Vs Roofers: How SB1718 changed Roofing in Florida

    TL;DR Summary:

    Florida’s new immigration law, effective July 1, mandates businesses with 25+ employees to verify worker citizenship through E-Verify. Videos of empty worksites and protests by immigrants have emerged in response. Some believe the law won’t fix issues as many companies pay undocumented workers under the table. E-Verify’s efficacy is questionable, with historical data showing it failed to prevent illegal hires. Loopholes exist, exempting 56% of undocumented workers. Immigrants might still leave, leading to labor shortages and higher costs. The law’s impact will only be known after implementation.


    Videos of empty worksites have been all over social media since Florida Governor Ron Desantis signed a new immigration law.

    It goes into effect July 1, and requires businesses with 25 or more employees to prove their worker’s citizenship status through the online portal E-Verify.

    In response to this new law, immigrants in Florida have been organizing protests and speaking out to the media. We spoke to one Florida roofer who is concerned that workers will leave the state, which could hurt communities that are still rebuilding after Hurricane Ian.

    But another roofer said the current system is unfair. A lot of companies are paying undocumented immigrants under the table, making it hard to compete as a legal business. Even roofers who have their employees on the books can take advantage of their immigration status to avoid paying worker’s comp.

    Desantis’ posted this to his website May 10, 2023:

    GOVERNOR DESANTIS SIGNED SB 1718 THE STRONGEST ANTI-ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION BILL IN THE NATION TO COMBAT THE BIDEN BORDER CRISIS Requires employers to use E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of employees, and fines employers who fail to use E-Verify $1,000 per day. E-Verify Suspends licenses of any employer who knowingly employs illegal aliens, and makes using a fake ID to gain employment a felony. CLOSED Enhances penalties for human smuggling, including making knowingly transporting five or more illegal aliens or a single illegal alien minor a second-degree felony subject to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison. Provides $12 million to continue the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program to relocate illegal immigrants to sanctuary jurisdictions. Bans local governments and NGOs from issuing identification documents to illegal aliens and invalidates all out-of-state driver licenses issued exclusively to illegal aliens. Requires hospitals to collect and report healthcare costs for illegal aliens.

    Will this new law fix those pervasive issues?

    Unfortunately, probably not.

    To see how well E-Verify works, we can look at data from four other states who already require it: Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The Cato Institute compared the number of new hires in each of those states with the number of E-Verify submissions in 2015, and found that only 57.6% of new hires were run through E-Verify.

    Florida’s new law will fine employers who do not use E-Verify, but it’s not clear how this will be enforced– especially in the case of companies who are paying people under the table. Critics have also pointed out that E-Verify can only check documents, not the person. So if a worker is using someone else’s Social Security number and they have a matching ID, it’s unlikely they will get flagged.

    From 2006 to 2018, it is estimated that E-Verify failed to stop 12 million illegal hires. In 2019, 680 workers were detained after ICE raided a chicken factory in Mississippi who was using E-Verify. And there are other cases where the same thing has happened.

    On top of all that, it’s estimated that 56% of undocumented workers in Florida will be exempt from E-Verify because they work for companies with less than 25 employees.

    But even with these loopholes, immigrants could still choose to leave the state because they are afraid of losing work or being deported. It could mean a labor shortage for Florida roofers, higher pay for crews and higher costs for homeowners. We won’t see the true impact of SB 1718 until the law goes into effect on July 1.

    May 9th, 2023 – Florida Immigration’s Twitter account posted these two responses to Desantis and SB 1718:

    While this discriminatory bill is on its way to the Governor desk, our community came together in their anger over the criminalization of our families. Our voices and actions pushed for legislators to remove what they first intended the bill to do. They didn't do this because they wanted to, they did it because we pushed it! It will NOT be a crime to live, provide shelter, or rent space for family members, friends or neighbors who have an unregulated status. It will NOT be a crime to provide transportation within the state of Florida to any person with an unregulated status. The -Verify system will ONLY be required for employers with 25 employees or more.
. You do NOT need to provide your immigration status to hospitals, you have the right to decline to answer.
    While this discriminatory bill is on its way to the Governor desk, our community came together in their anger over the criminalization of our families. Our voices and actions pushed for legislators to remove what they first intended the bill to do. They didn't do this because they wanted to, they did it because we pushed it! It will NOT be a crime to live, provide shelter, or rent space for family members, friends or neighbors who have an unregulated status. It will NOT be a crime to provide transportation within the state of Florida to any person with an unregulated status. The -Verify system will ONLY be required for employers with 25 employees or more.
. You do NOT need to provide your immigration status to hospitals, you have the right to decline to answer.

    More on the Efficacy of E-Verify:

    To evaluate the potential effectiveness of E-Verify, we can examine data from four other states—Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, and South Carolina—that already require its use. The Cato Institute compared the number of new hires in these states with the number of E-Verify submissions in 2015, revealing that only 57.6% of new hires underwent E-Verify checks.

    Florida’s new law includes fines for employers who fail to utilize E-Verify. However, enforcing this requirement, particularly for companies paying workers under the table, presents challenges. Critics also argue that E-Verify can only verify documents and not the individual’s identity. Consequently, workers who use someone else’s Social Security number and possess a matching ID are unlikely to be flagged. Furthermore, historical data indicates that E-Verify has failed to prevent millions of illegal hires.

    Loopholes and Potential Consequences:

    Approximately 56% of undocumented workers in Florida could be exempt from E-Verify since they are employed by companies with fewer than 25 employees. Despite these loopholes, immigrants might still choose to leave the state due to fears of job loss or deportation. This scenario could result in a labor shortage for Florida roofers, leading to higher wages for crews and increased costs for homeowners.

    Labor shortages and increased costs may cause unintended consequences

    While the new immigration law in Florida aims to address concerns surrounding undocumented workers, its potential impact remains uncertain. The requirement of using E-Verify might not effectively deter unauthorized employment due to its limitations and historical shortcomings. Moreover, the law’s exemptions and the possibility of workers leaving the state could have unintended consequences, such as labor shortages and increased costs.

    The true effects of SB 1718 will only become apparent once it is implemented on July 1.

    Dmitry Lipinskiy
    Host of Roofing Insights YouTube channel, Founder of Roofing Business School

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