Migrant workers face dilemma under new immigration law in Florida

  • Florida’s new immigration law, which takes effect Saturday, makes it a felony to transport people in the country illegally across state lines.
  • SB 1718 also requires hospitals to ask patients whether they are in the country legally, among other provisions.
  • Some say uncertainty about the new law is especially stressful for immigrants whose children are citizens: “They don’t know how they can uproot their family.”

IMMOKALEE, Fla. – It was still dark at 5 a.m. as workers with backpacks arrived on bicycles and foot to a parking lot next to Azteca market. Some ducked inside to buy drinks, or lunch, or work gloves, as a song by Mexican music icon Joan Sebastian played on the intercom.

Then, they waited. 

Roosters crowed as vans and repainted school buses rolled in to haul the workers to farms or construction and landscaping jobs 45 minutes away in cities on Florida’s southwest Gulf Coast.

In Immokalee, where nearly 40% of residents are foreign-born, it’s a pre-dawn ritual that’s familiar to one 59-year-old woman from Mexico, who spent much of her adult life picking tomatoes, making a home and raising children. 


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