By Rachel Nostrant
(Reuters) – Florida will no longer accept driver’s licenses issued by certain other U.S. states to immigrants living in the country illegally under a law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination of 2024.
Florida’s law, which went into effect July 1, is “the toughest anti-illegal immigration law in the country,” the governor’s office said in a press release Wednesday.
Out-of-state licenses, designed specifically for unauthorized immigrants and deemed invalid by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, come from Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The list includes out-of-state licenses that state “Not for Federal Identification” or “Driving Privilege Only.” Those who drive in Florida with such permits will face citations and other penalties.
The law also prohibits anyone without immigration papers from obtaining a Florida driver’s license.
“A person who is illegally in our country and has violated our laws should not have government-issued identification that allows them to access publicly funded services and other resident privileges. legal,” DeSantis said in the statement.
DeSantis has sought to ward off conservative voters who favor the hardline immigration policies of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, the former president who leads DeSantis by more than 20 percentage points in national opinion polls.
The bill also prevents counties and municipalities from providing funds to individuals or organizations that issue identification documents to people without proof of “lawful presence in the United States.”
Hospitals are required to collect the immigration status of patients as part of their admissions process.
The Mexican government called the law racial profiling and a hate crime. “Criminalization is not the way to solve the problem of illegal immigration,” a statement from the Mexican government said on Saturday.
“The existence of transnational labor markets and the intense trade and tourism ties between Mexico and Florida cannot be ignored by measures inspired by xenophobic and white nationalist sentiments,” he said.
(Reporting by Rachel Nostrant; Editing by Howard Goller)