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In DeSantis' fight against woke, Florida may instead go broke

A new right-wing immigration law could devastate the state's economy — and the lives of so many migrants.


Ron DeSantis says Florida is where "woke" goes to die. But does he actually mean history, the First Amendment or maybe jobs? After all, his war against Disney — a major employer in his state — threatens to kill off billions in investments and thousands of jobs. 

Bodily autonomy? That’s dying, too. 

It’s where human rights go to die as well for those unlucky enough to come from poor and violent countries and whose labor plays an essential role in how things in this country function. 

Last week, Desantis signed a vile and inhumane immigration bill imposing penalties and restrictions on undocumented immigrants in Florida that, among other things, bans local governments from issuing identification cards for people who can’t prove citizenship.

It criminalizes not just migrants — but any Florida resident who associates with them. This includes providing undocumented immigrants with work or transportation, which is why Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski said it would criminalize “empathy."

The penalties — which haven’t even taken effect yet — will certainly have deadly consequences. This is what an undocumented immigrant told Telemundo’s Lourdes Hurtado, translated into English:

“They say they are going to check the hospitals. If you don’t have papers then it is scary to take care of yourself, and I am very sick right now and I need surgery ... My children tell me to go back to Mexico ... Because they are afraid.” 

The cruelty — isn’t that the point?

But that’s not all. The immigration legislation is also a dumb economic move, leaving a void in the labor this country runs on. 

A similar bill more than a decade ago didn’t go so well in Alabama, where a crackdown on immigration led to produce rotting in the fields. Because picking blueberries, tomatoes and squash largely requires hand labor — by the migrants these Republicans loathe. 

Republicans don’t care about these people and their lives. What they do care about is money.

So it should surprise no one that this issue has taken over social media. We’re seeing work sites apparently abandoned. And Latino truck drivers calling for a boycott, refusing to take shipments into Florida in response to the new law. 

Luís Melean, a construction worker in Florida, showed Telemundo the huge void left by construction workers who left when they heard the bill was approved. Some even left their tools behind as they abandoned the Sunshine State.

This is what Luís said about why the workers fled, translated into English: "They are saying, 'To be detained out there and then my children are left alone, I'd rather leave before the first of July.' It's next month when it is going to get really tough because there won’t be qualified workers."

But we get it: Republicans don’t care about these people and their lives. What they do care about is money.

Without migrants, the state will lose millions in federal, state and local taxes — because yes, many undocumented migrants pay taxes (though they may not reap the benefits). It will cause staffing crises for agriculture — one of the state’s most vital industries, leaving a gap in the tough, back-breaking labor no one else wants to do. 

A state like Florida without farming, construction and hospitality doesn’t sound much like Florida now, does it? Wait until the economy comes to a screeching halt.

This is an excerpt from Tuesday’s episode of “The ReidOut.” It has been slightly edited for length and clarity.