Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a law that prohibits the acceptance of driver’s licenses issued by certain U.S. states for immigrants living in the country illegally. This move is seen as part of DeSantis’ strategy to secure the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. The law, which came into effect on July 1, is considered to be the most stringent anti-illegal immigration legislation in the country, according to a press release from the governor’s office. The licenses that are now deemed invalid by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles are those issued by Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. These licenses are specifically designed for unauthorized immigrants and are marked with phrases such as “Not for Federal Identification” or “Driving Privilege Only.” Anyone found driving in Florida with these licenses will face citations and penalties. Additionally, the law also prohibits individuals without immigration documentation from obtaining a Florida driver’s license. Governor DeSantis stated that individuals who are in the country illegally and have violated the law should not possess a government-issued ID that grants them access to state-funded services and privileges reserved for lawful residents. DeSantis has been actively trying to attract conservative voters who support strict immigration policies, aiming to draw them away from former President Donald Trump, who currently leads DeSantis by a significant margin in national opinion polls. The law also prevents counties and municipalities from providing funds to organizations or individuals that issue identification documents to individuals without proof of lawful presence in the United States. Furthermore, hospitals are now required to collect patients’ immigration status as part of their intake process. The Mexican government has criticized the law, describing it as racial profiling and a hate crime. In a statement, the Mexican government emphasized that criminalization is not the solution to the issue of undocumented immigration. It also highlighted the strong ties between Mexico and Florida in terms of trade, tourism, and transnational labor markets, stating that measures inspired by xenophobic and white nationalist sentiments should not overlook these important factors.
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