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Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill banning ID's for undocumented immigrants

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis answers questions from the media in the Florida Cabinet room following his State of the State address during a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives Tuesday, March 7, 2023, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla.
Phil Sears

Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill banning undocumented immigrants from obtaining any form of ID.

The measure was one of a host of bill the governor signed during a Friday press conference in Winter Haven meant to continue the undocumented immigrant crackdown that has been a priority since he took office. It comes as Florida faces a potential wave of refugees from Haiti.

Along with a bill banning local and state government from recognizing any photo ID from undocumented individuals, DeSantis also signed bills increasing criminal penalties for people who commit crimes after returning from being deported and for those who drive without a license.

“We were one of the weaker states with respect to illegal immigration. Since we’ve come in, we’ve done things like ban sanctuary cities throughout the State of Florida, those were legal in this state prior to me taking office,” DeSantis said.

Earlier this week, the governor mobilized state resources to keep Haitian migrants looking to escape violence in their country from landing in Florida. During the press conference, DeSantis said the state has already stopped a boat carrying 25 undocumented migrants.

“The last thing you should want to do is get on some boat and think you are going to come through from any of these islands to get to the state of Florida. The most likely scenario is you will be stopped, and you will be returned to your country of origin and so it is a hazardous journey, it’s not worth doing,” he said.

He held the press conference alongside notoriously tough-on-crime Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. He has become a minor right-wing celebrity for his hardline positions on immigration. During the conference, Judd says undocumented immigrants are looking to bring drugs like Fentanyl into the country.

“Folks, they are coming here not just to find a better way of life like our forefathers did, but they are coming here to kill our people, while they make enormous profits,” he said.

According to the United States Sentencing Commission, 86% of those arrested for trafficking the drug were Americans.

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.