Governor DeSantis Calls for E-Verify to be Mandatory in 2020

Photo Credit: Governor Ron DeSantis’ Twitter

A push to make E-Verify mandatory for Florida employers is now being eyed by Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Governor DeSantis called on the Florida Legislature November 25 to pass an E-Verify requirement during the 2020 Legislative Session. The Governor’s office explains that E-Verify is a United States Department of Homeland Security Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees, both U.S. or foreign citizen, to work in the United States. DeSantis has been joined by State GOP Chairman Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) and House Representative Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville) in introducing SB 664.

“Today, I was joined by Sen. Joe Gruters and Rep. Cord Byrd to call on the Florida legislature to pass E-Verify legislation that will ensure a safe and legal labor market in Florida. We cannot continue to wait for important reforms of our state laws on immigration,” DeSanits said on Twitter. “…It’s about fairness for lawful immigrants and native-born workers and public safety.”

DeSantis called for the Legislature to have employers use E-Verify when they consider new hires. This is an effort to make the workplace safe for all employees and the employers themselves. 

E-Verify was created in 1996 as an electronic federal database and maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security. It is used by more than 700,000 employers and 2.4 million hiring sites nationwide, according to the SSA.

Rep. Gruters stated that E-Verify will be used in Florida to combat illegal immigration. So far, Florida has turned down sanctuary city legislation. 

“Governor Ron DeSantis’ leadership is why we now have the strongest ban of sanctuary cities in the country,” Gruters said. “We are now going to work together again to deliver for Florida workers.”

The bill allows for “a person who has a good faith belief that an employee knowingly employs, or has within 90 calendar days knowingly employed an unauthorized alien” to file a complaint with the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). SB 664 does not require employers to check the immigrant status of workers hired on or before the E-Verify start date.

The proposal also would offer employers who are registered to use E-Verify immunity from civil legal action if they hire undocumented workers after the system erroneously said the workers were eligible to be employed. Also, businesses would receive immunity if they check E-Verify and deny jobs to legal workers if the system said the people were not authorized to work in the country.

The bill, SB 664, filed on Oct. 24, is still awaiting its first committee hearing. It has been assigned to the Judiciary, Commerce & Tourism and Rules committees. Lawmakers will convene next month once more before the 2020 Session begins on Jan. 14.

Twenty states have already made E-Verify a requirement. Arizona, Mississippi and South Carolina have all adopted mandatory E-Verify bills in the last two years. 

At the time of his announcement, the governor was accompanied by the parents of two Floridians murdered by illegal immigrants. Also present was the mother of a woman killed in a traffic accident caused by an undocumented immigrant. Gruters, R-Sarasota and Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Jacksonville were also present.

“I trust the Legislature will act swiftly in the 2020 Legislative Session and pass an E-Verify requirement for employers in this state to protect Florida workers, preserve the rule of law, and make our communities safer,” Gov. DeSantis stated.

If the bill is approved, employers will have to start using the E-Verify system by January 1, 2021.