Florida House passes immigration bill that includes citizenship question on hospital forms
The GOP-controlled House gave the proposal final passage on a party-line vote with Republicans in support. It passed the Senate last week and now moves to the governor's office to be signed into law.
The Florida House on Tuesday approved a sweeping immigration bill pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that includes a provision that requires some hospitals to include a citizenship question on patient intake forms,
The GOP-controlled House gave the proposal (SB 1718) final passage on a party-line vote with Republicans in support. It passed the Senate last week and now moves to the governor's office to be signed into law.
The measure would require hospitals that accept Medicaid to change their admission or registration forms. It would mean more than 320 Florida hospitals would need to include a question asking patients whether they're United States citizens, and whether they are lawfully in the country.
According to the bill, the form should inform patients that their answer does not affect patient care or result in a report to immigration authorities.
Republican state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia of Springhill, sponsor of bill, said he wants the state to determine how much it costs to provide care for people living in the country illegally.
Supporters of his measure say people who don't have permanent legal status drain resources of hospitals that receive Medicaid.
Critics said the bill was intended to dissuade undocumented immigrants from seeking medical care.
“As a doctor, I've taken an oath to provide care for all patients, regardless of their background or their status," Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, a professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said. at a news conference last week.
Carrasquillo was among 80 health care workers who wrote a letter to legislative leaders in opposition to the bill.
"I'm deeply concerned this bill is going to scare many undocumented patients from seeking care," he said.
The bill provides $12 million for DeSantis' migrant relocation initiative, which drew national attention last year when the governor flew a group of South American migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, a move intended to protest federal immigration policy.
The measure also expands requirements for businesses with more than 25 staffers to use E-Verify, a federal system that determines if employees can legally work in the U.S. It prohibits local governments from providing money to organizations that issue identification cards to people illegally in the country and invalidates out-of-state driver's licenses held by undocumented immigrants.
DeSantis, who is expected to launch his presidential candidacy in the coming weeks, has made immigration a top priority and has espoused hard-right positions on undocumented immigration geared toward winning support among Republican primary voters.
DeSantis framed the legislative package as a counter to Democratic President Joe Biden's border policy, previously saying "we won’t turn a blind eye to the dangers of Biden’s Border Crisis. We will continue to take steps to protect Floridians from reckless federal open-border policies.”
“This bill is politically driven, and it’s an anti-immigrant bill that will hurt and even kill undocumented immigrants,” said Rep. Susan Valdes, a Democrat from Tampa.
The governor's Republican allies in the statehouse largely mirrored his rhetoric.
“We can't solve the problem in Washington. But we can send a message that says in Florida, we've had enough,” said Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican.
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