This is Part 3 in a series about the toll that the federal government’s intentional promotion of illegal immigration is taking on the states and their citizens. (Read Part 1 (national overview) here and Part 2 (Texas) here.)
As the border crisis continues across every congressional district in the country, Florida is leading the charge to fight back against the Biden administration’s dangerous policies that are causing the crisis and its incredible costs to state taxpayers.
The breakdown of that $8 billion includes nearly $6 billion in government services for about 1.19 million illegal aliens living in Florida and more than $2 billion in services for about 610,000 of their U.S.-born children.
According to data compiled by the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration for fiscal year 2020-21, the total cost of illegal alien hospital care in Florida was $312.92 million for 111,475 illegal aliens helped at hospitals, including 23,358 inpatient hospital admissions. Of that amount, only 33% was actually paid to those facilities, leaving a $209.43 million unpaid balance.
Local jurisdictions ended up being responsible for $700,000 in inpatient and outpatient services, and the state was billed $104.9 million for the same services.
Additionally, in 2019, Florida was absorbing the $1.6 billion cost to educate U.S.- and foreign-born children of illegal immigrants. That number has likely only increased.
And of course, we cannot forget the human costs of the border crisis. In April 2022, an illegal alien was charged with four felonies, including DUI manslaughter, after killing a 72-year-old man and injuring others in an eight-vehicle crash in Walton County.
In March 2022, an illegal alien was charged with the first-degree murder of two Floridians, with the Daytona Beach Police Chief describing the killings as “one of the most vicious attacks I’ve ever seen in my 20 years.”
In December 2021, an illegal alien was charged and arrested for battery, child abuse, and cocaine possession in Escambia County.
In November 2021, an illegal alien who initially lied about being a minor was charged with murder in a deadly stabbing in Jacksonville. Gov. Ron DeSantis was quoted as saying, “If not for the Biden Administration’s unlawful ‘catch and release’ policy, [victim] Francisco Cuellar would still be alive today.”
In response, Florida is simultaneously incentivizing law enforcement recruitment and supporting existing law enforcement, including through pay raises and bonus programs. In 2021, Florida saw total crime drop 8.3%, with murder dropping 14.2%.
In contrast, other cities and states with high illegal alien populations and more lenient crime policies have seen rates increase. For example, in 2021, California saw a 7.2% increase in homicide (with a 2.9% decrease in homicide arrests) and 6.7% increase in violent crimes (with a 7.3% decrease in violent crime arrests). New York saw a 22.4% increase in crime from 2021 to 2022.
Enforcing our immigration laws and securing the homeland are primarily federal responsibilities. Under the current presidential administration, states must prevent illegal immigration themselves and protect their own borders as best they can, especially in light of the toll it is taking on their communities.
Florida has already taken several steps to do this. The state prohibits sanctuary cities, requires local cooperation with federal law enforcement, treats alien smuggling as a felony, and has sued the Biden administration for violating federal immigration laws and harming Florida in the process.
And despite the Biden administration’s promotion of policies embedding illegal aliens across the nation, Florida continues to work on passing legislation disincentivizing illegal immigration and enforcing the law to keep Floridians safe.
Last month, DeSantis proposed legislation to counteract the border crisis. The proposed measures would enhance penalties for human smuggling, expand E-verify requirements for verifying employment eligibility by removing employer exceptions and increasing penalties for violations, strengthen driver’s license and voter registration requirements, require hospitals to collect immigration status data and report costs of illegal alien care, eliminate in-state tuition for unauthorized aliens, and close loopholes through which illegal aliens are released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention.
Following the governor’s proposal, state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia introduced SB 1718, a bill addressing many of the governor’s proposed measures.
As of late 2021, the governor’s office required hospitals to report the costs of health care for illegal aliens in the state and distinguish whether federal, state, or local funds are being used to pay for it. DeSantis’ proposed legislation would put these requirements into Florida law.
As Florida fights back against the Biden administration’s radical, open-border agenda at the state level, members of Congress must also answer the call from the American people and keep their campaign promises to step up and restore border security at the national level. They must also hold Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas accountable for the border crisis they created.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal