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Florida's Crackdown on States Issuing Illegal Immigrants Driver’s Licenses

AP Photo/Terry Spencer

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed Senate Bill 1718 into law earlier this year and it went into effect on July 1. One of its provisions is that the state will no longer recognize driver's licenses from other states who knowingly issue them to illegal immigrants.

The state driver's licenses that fall under this category include Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, and Vermont. 

Speaking with Townhall, Dave Kerner, executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), explained the new law sends a message to illegal immigrants that Florida is not the state for you if you intend to enter the country illegally and not go through the legal pathways to remain in the nation.

"There are two choices that an immigrant can make when they're crossing the border illegally. One is to self-report to federal authorities, Border Patrol, they apply for asylum and they're documented. They have lawful presence. So that whole population is not relevant to this bill," Kerner said.

"Governor DeSantis has been very clear, and it's a very obvious policy, that states should not be in the business of incentivizing those that cross the border illegally, to avoid detection, and remain undocumented. Florida is not going to provide that incentive, and if you do remain undocumented and can't prove your lawful presence, then we're not going to give you an incentive to be allowed to drive in our state, and that seems very basic," he continued.

Kerner pointed out if an illegal immigrant is caught using one of the driver's licenses listed in the law, they will be charged with a misdemeanor for not having a valid driver's license.

"The law is very clear, and we appreciate that, that they shall be charged. They shall be issued a citation. There's no discretion on that point," he said.

Kerner said he is hopeful other states follow Florida's lead in not recognizing those types of IDs.

Along the southern border, the Texas Department of Public Safety revealed Texas and Florida state troopers found two juveniles, ages 14 and 16, being smuggled by an illegal immigrant inside the trunk of a car during a traffic stop. Edwin Giovanni Barrientos Linares gave the troopers a California driver's license that is issued to undocumented individuals.

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