E-Verify system in Florida aimed at scaring off workers in worst jobs. Who will fill in?

If you’re looking for a job in Florida, you might want to consider some red-hot new career opportunities picking vegetables, tarring roofs or cleaning hotel toilets.

Thanks to the imperatives of campaign messaging, Florida is about to make life harder for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants working in the state.

We’re going to be spending millions of tax dollars to fly them to other states or to scare them away by implementing a law that fines some of their employers $1,000 per day for giving them jobs.

You might think that chasing undocumented residents from the farm fields, construction sites and janitorial closets where they’ve been working is an exercise in political bottom-feeding.

But it’s best to think of it as great news for those of you who have felt stung by being unfairly left out of those pre-dawn bus rides to the crops, summer afternoons on the construction site and late nights in filthy office bathrooms. You have an opportunity now to reclaim these “stolen” jobs.

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The state’s powerful agriculture, construction and tourist industries have been wary of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s demand that all businesses use E-Verify to check the legal status of new hires. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

The state’s powerful agriculture, construction and tourist industries have been wary of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s demand that all businesses use E-Verify to check the legal status of new hires. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Their loss is your gain. You will be the beneficiary of a new bill passed by Florida lawmakers as part of their devoted effort to pick some partisan scabs in service to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential ambitions.

The legislation is slated to go into effect on July 1. News reports say it is already creating a drain on some of the estimated 775,000 undocumented residents of Florida, who have started to make plans to work in other states.

Great news for you. Clear out, amigos! Florida Man is here to pick his own dang tomaters.

No hard feelings. That’s the way the tortilla crumbles.

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Plenty of new jobs available in Florida

To get started, I recommend you replacement workers invest in back braces. There’s going to be a lot of bending over in your new career.

What’s it going to be like? Like picking the TV remote off the floor. But all day long.

The new law requires businesses that employ 25 or more workers to use the E-Verify system for establishing the citizenship status of all employees hired beginning in July.

Palm Beach County Hispanic leaders representing opposite political views Monday urged Gov. Ron DeSantis not to sign a controversial anti-immigration measure approved by lawmakers.

Palm Beach County Hispanic leaders representing opposite political views Monday urged Gov. Ron DeSantis not to sign a controversial anti-immigration measure approved by lawmakers.

Immigration hardline groups complain that it doesn’t go far enough. The 25-worker threshold for compliance would exempt 56 percent of the state’s illegal workers from being flagged, the Center for Immigration Studies contended.

The big companies relying on undocumented labor will just reorganize their workforce into sub-contractor groups of fewer than 25 workers to sidestep the law, critics say.

E-Verify: A tough law with an easy way to avoid it

Other states have already beat Florida in establishing E-Verify laws, starting with Arizona in 2008. And the experience there is that after an early exodus of the undocumented workforce, both the workers and employers found ways around the system.

“E-Verify allows politicians to have it both ways: Supporting it makes them look tough on illegal immigration while the fact that it’s so easy to evade means their local businesses and economics are largely unaffected,” The Cato Institute wrote in a report entitled, “Why e-Verify is failing.”

An audit of the system submitted to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found that most illegal workers can easily evade being flagged by E-Verify.

“If a worker presents documents that contain information about a real work-authorized person and if the documents appear to be valid, E-Verify is unlikely to detect the identity fraud,” the audit found. “As a result, it is estimated that approximately half (54 percent with a plausible range of 37 to 64 percent) of unauthorized workers with cases submitted to E-Verify receive an inaccurate finding of being work authorized.”

Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino

Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino

In Arizona, about 17 percent of the illegal workers left the state when the requirement was first put in place, but then gradually returned to their pre-check levels.

So, maybe you’re still going to need to learn some Spanish. But there’s going to be an early window for you opening up.

A lot of the existing Florida workers will vanish, especially since other provisions of the bill try to make their lives miserable in other ways — such as creating reporting requirements when they show up at a hospital, or invalidating their driver’s licenses from other states.

More good news for you. Did I mention you’ll probably need a big floppy hat? You don’t want to end up with melanoma from those 12-hour days in the sun.

Immigrants gather with their belongings outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard.

Immigrants gather with their belongings outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard.

Job opening for DeSantis affects job openings in Florida

The key is to jump on this now. Don’t wait. I wouldn’t count on Florida staying this bigoted forever.

Remember, this is all in service to the presidential ambitions of our governor. And lately, it hasn’t been going so well for the little guy.

A CBS News/YouGov poll of Republican voters this past week put former President Donald Trump over DeSantis by a margin of 58 to 22 percent. If you’re losing to Chester the Molester in your own state, things aren’t going well.

And if DeSantis’ presidential ambitions flame out, there would be no reason for him to keep supporting this flimsy employment obstacle for the state’s big agriculture, construction, and hospitality interests.

So, act now to secure that new job. Wait too long, and you could end up not getting to that vegetable field of your dreams.

Frank Cerabino is a columnist at The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at [email protected].

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Porous E-Verify immigration system in Florida won’t stop undocumented

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