FACT FOCUS: Videos of empty store aisles are unrelated to Florida’s immigration bill

May 17, 2023, 5:45 PM

FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference in Miami, Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Vi...

FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference in Miami, Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Videos circulating on social media purport to show empty Florida grocery stores due to a boycott of truck drivers over an immigration bill recently signed by DeSantis. However, while some truckers have threatened to stop deliveries in the state, these grocery aisles are empty for reasons that are unrelated to the recent bill. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

A sweeping immigration bill recently signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is sparking fears of deserted workplaces – and barren grocery shelves.

The new law, set to take effect in July, will require businesses with more than 25 staffers to verify that their employees can legally work in the U.S. through a federal system, among other restrictions. Critics have said the change could lead to a shortage of workers on farms and construction sites.

Amid outcry, a pair of videos circulating widely on social media are claiming to show empty supermarkets in the Sunshine State, purportedly due to truck drivers boycotting deliveries to the state in protest of the immigration overhaul.

But the footage is unrelated. And while some truckers have posted on social media calling on drivers to curb deliveries to Florida, immigration advocates say it’s too soon to tell if there will be any widespread action.

Here are the facts.

CLAIM: Videos show empty grocery store shelves in Florida because truckers are boycotting the state over a new immigration law.

THE FACTS: While both clips show Florida stores, neither has anything to do with the new law or a boycott. One is from October and shows shortages during Hurricane Ian, while another shows a recent refrigeration issue at a single Walmart Supercenter.

The first video shows a shopper panning their camera around the refrigerators and freezers at a Winn-Dixie, while saying “Supermarkets are empty in Florida. There’s nothing, nothing, look.”

“Undocumented workers are leaving Florida in droves. It’s affecting farmers, hotels, restaurants, construction, lawn companies, & especially grocery stores w perishables,” reads one Twitter post of the footage, which had received more than 6,000 likes as of Wednesday. “Understandably many Hispanic truck drivers are refusing to enter the state. Nicely done DeSantis!”

However, the video was originally posted on TikTok in Oct. 2, 2022, after Hurricane Ian made landfall. The caption on the original post includes the hashtag “hurricaneian” and says, “no food in the Winn-Dixie in Florida on 17 and 92,” referring to a store in Fern Park, a suburb of Orlando.

The second video shared on social media platforms shows a large sign that reads “Packaged Deli” and above a partially empty refrigerated aisle. “No groceries smh sad these truckers weren’t playing when they said they were not delivering anything to Florida !!!” reads the caption on a TikTok post tagging the location as Palmetto, Florida, with more than 800,000 likes.

The signage in the video matches a Walmart store in Palmetto, but the grocery chain said the lack of groceries in the clip was unrelated to any supply issues.

Charles Crowson, a spokesperson for Walmart, said in an email that it was a result of a refrigerator malfunction and should be repaired within the next few days.

While the videos are unrelated to the recent legislation, there have been posts on social media from Latino truck drivers responding to the new laws by threatening to boycott deliveries to the state and calling on others to do so.

In addition to the new rules around E-Verify, the law would provide $12 million for DeSantis’ migrant relocation initiative, require hospitals that accept Medicaid to include a citizenship question on its intake forms and prohibit local governments from providing money to organizations that issue identification cards to immigrants lacking permanent legal status in the country. It would also invalidate out-of-state driver’s licenses for that same group.

Immigration advocacy groups tell the AP it’s too early to have data on the impacts of the law since it was only signed last week and does not go into effect until July 1.

Thomas Kennedy, a spokesperson with the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said he was aware of the truckers’ boycott threats, but said it is too soon to say if there will be large-scale scale actions.

“It remains to be seen, I mean, you know, boycotts and strikes and work stoppages take a lot of time, a lot of a lot of organization. And this is bubbling up. But again, the law hasn’t even gone into effect,” said Kennedy. “There’s definitely the ingredients and some energy there.”

Kennedy said the coalition has heard anecdotal reports that many migrants are afraid to show up to work since the law was signed and there was apprehension in the community.

The new legislation will impact construction and factory workers, according to Bethzaida Olivera Vazquez, who is the national director of policy and legislation for The League of United Latin American Citizens, which is the oldest Latino civil rights group in the U.S.

“This law would have a very harmful effect for businesses,” said Vazquez. “If there were to be a boycott among truckers the impacts could be significant.”


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.

National News

Associated Press

US judge yanks approval for Idaho mine after finding that federal agency violated environmental laws

A federal judge has yanked approval for a phosphate mining project in southeastern Idaho, saying federal land managers in the Trump administration didn’t in part properly consider the mine’s impact on sage grouse, a bird species that has seen an 80% decline in population since 1965. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s Friday decision came […]

16 hours ago

Sen. Fred Mills asks a question to members of The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Servi...

Associated Press

Louisiana Senate passes bill banning gender-affirming car for transgender youths

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A controversial bill — that at one point had been presumed dead — banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender youths in Louisiana was passed by the Senate on Monday and is likely to reach the governor’s desk in the coming days. The bill, which passed in the Senate mainly along […]

16 hours ago

Ted Henifin, the interim third-party manager appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice to help fi...

Associated Press

Mississippi’s capital only collects 56% of fees from its struggling water system

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s capital is collecting only a little more than half of the money it bills for water use, far below the rate at which most American cities obtain such fees, Jackson’s federally appointed water manager said Monday. Ted Henifin, appointed in November by a federal court to help improve Jackson’s troubled […]

16 hours ago

Associated Press

Chinese ex-official’s wife says alleged repatriation pressure turned her life in US ‘upside-down’

NEW YORK (AP) — A former Chinese official and his wife had left their homeland and kept their U.S. address private. Yet eight years later, two strangers were banging on their New Jersey front door and twisting the handle, the wife testified in a U.S. court Monday. When the men left and Liu Fang opened […]

16 hours ago

Associated Press

Ex-guard at NYC federal building indicted in sex assault of asylum seeker

NEW YORK (AP) — An asylum seeker was sexually assaulted by an armed guard at a federal building in New York City where the FBI has its offices, according to an indictment unsealed Monday. Jimmy Solano-Arias, 42, of the Bronx, was charged in Manhattan federal court with deprivation of rights under color of law involving […]

16 hours ago

Associated Press

CNN chief apologizes to employees for distracting from work

NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Licht, the embattled chief executive of CNN, apologized to network employees on Monday for distracting from their work and promised to “fight like hell” to earn their trust amid criticism of his year at the helm. Licht’s tenure hit a low point last week with publication of a lengthy, damaging […]

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

FACT FOCUS: Videos of empty store aisles are unrelated to Florida’s immigration bill