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Florida just made it harder to be undocumented

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Immigration Law

On Monday, March 4, 2024, the Florida legislature voted to pass House Bill 1451, which would effectively prohibit local and county authorities from either issuing or accepting ID cards or documents from immigrants who are not lawfully present in this country.

In other words, it just got a lot harder to be an undocumented immigrant in the state. Some of the politicians involved said that banning the use of these community identification cards is necessary to keep undocumented immigrants out of the state.

What do community ID cards actually do?

Community ID cards are not the big benefit to undocumented immigrants that the Florida legislature thinks they are. They confer no rights on their bearers to vote or get welfare benefits. They are issued by certain local communities simply to make it easier for those communities to govern their residents (lawfully present or not).

Community ID cards are used to do things like:

  • Provide identification so that people can obtain utility services 
  • Obtain bus passes and commuter discounts
  • File consumer complaints 
  • Pick up children from school
  • Take children to doctor’s appointments
  • Get children hospital treatment
  • Obtain vaccines
  • Access certain social service programs

They can also be used to help law enforcement authorities identify people, which can be particularly important if an immigrant is a witness to a crime or victimized by criminal activity. Miami-Dade County first approved its community ID program back in 2022, so the legislature’s relatively swift response is striking.

It’s never been particularly easy to be an undocumented immigrant in the United States, but the difficulty just keeps increasing. If you or someone you love is undocumented, it may be time to explore other legal avenues.