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Florida lawmakers say no to community IDs for undocumented immigrants

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The Florida House passed legislation banning undocumented immigrants from getting any ID card in the state.

The measure is meant to crackdown on community ID programs. Those programs are carried out by local governments and are meant to give undocumented immigrants a form of identification they can use when they interact with law enforcement and other general functions.

But to Republicans like Seminole Representative Berny Jacques, the IDs act as a beacon to attract those in the country illegally, which he believes will bring in crime. While on the house floor, Jacques read off the names of a handful of people who have been killed by undocumented immigrants around the country.

“And if it’s just for that reason, Mr. Speaker, to make sure we don’t lose one more American because there was an incentive that drew them here in the first place, then that is a reason good enough for me to vote up on this bill,” he said.

Spring Hill Republican Representative Jeff Holcomb, one of the bill’s cosponsors, went even further. He argued that Democrats nationally are opening borders to help themselves electorally. That argument is tied to the Great Replacement theory, a far-right conspiracy theory that there is a plot to supplant the political power of white Americans by allowing non-white immigrants to enter the country.

“They want to increase population in certain segments of this country, so they can get electoral votes and more representatives in Washington. Number two, they want illegal immigrants to vote. It was just mentioned that they can’t vote. Yet,” he said.

Democrats like Orlando Representative Johanna Lopez opposed the bill.

“By limiting the recognition of community ID’s, we send a message of exclusion and mistrust, creating an environment where our immigrants are segregated and Floridians are less safe,” she said.

Republicans in Florida passed a comprehensive immigrant package last year that cracked down on undocumented individuals working in the state. Hollywood Democratic Representative Marie Woodson believes the ID bill is a continuation of those efforts and is dehumanizing Florida’s immigrant community despite the entire country’s immigrant roots.

“Are we going to find it in our hearts, to put ourselves in the immigrants’ shoes that some of us used to wear and have grace on the immigrants, or are we going to forget where we come from,” she said.

The Senate version is set to be heard on the floor tomorrow

Tristan Wood is a senior producer and host with WFSU Public Media. A South Florida native and University of Florida graduate, he focuses on state government in the Sunshine State and local panhandle political happenings.