April 24, 2023

What Charges Do Floridians Face Under SB 1718?

This post was last updated on May 16, 2023, to include additional information on who SB 1718 may apply to.

Under CS/CS/SB 1718, anyone who transports someone they knew (or should have known) was an immigrant without a documented status1 could be charged with a felony. 


1There is nuance as to whom SB 1718 applies. State leaders said this legislation is intended to target immigrants who are here “illegally” (a.k.a., undocumented immigrants). Specifically, SB 1718 targets a person who “has entered the United States in violation of the law and has not been inspected by the Federal Government since his or her unlawful entry.” (See lines 561-562; 589-590 in the final bill.)

“Violation of the law” is vague because there are numerous ways a Floridian could violate the U.S.’ primary immigration law, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) — assuming that is the “law” to which SB 1718 refers. But because SB 1718 mentions a focus on whether or not someone was inspected, it is unclear how this law will be applied.

“Inspected” is not defined in the bill and deviates from the framework used by the INA such that SB 1718 could potentially apply to immigrants who initially entered without inspection (EWI) but who have since been granted lawful status or lawful presence. This could include, but not be limited to:

The Transportation Provision of SB 1718 Likely Does Not Apply to Most Immigrant Groups

Those who entered the U.S. legally (i.e., were inspected and admitted and did not enter the U.S. in violation of law) would not be considered undocumented under SB 1718. Thus, Floridians transporting these immigrants into the state would not be subject to SB 1718’s felonies.

However, there is no easy answer or list as to who SB 1718 does or does not apply to because federal immigration law uses a framework different from SB 1718. Moreover, it is difficult to know how narrowly or broadly the state will interpret SB 1718 and to what extent it will be enforced. That is a primary reason why FPI and others do not support Florida getting involved with complex federal immigration laws.

Anyone who is unclear on whether this or other SB 1718 provisions apply to them should consult with a licensed, skilled immigration attorney.

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