NATIONAL NEWS

DeSantis signs bills that he says will keep immigrants living in the US illegally from Florida

Mar 15, 2024, 1:43 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed bills Friday that increase the prison and jail sentences for immigrants who are living in the United States illegally if they are convicted of driving without a license or committing felonies.

DeSantis is a frequent critic of the Biden administration over its handling of the Mexican border, sending Florida law enforcement agents and National Guard members to Texas. The Republican governor, who ended his attempt for his party’s presidential nomination last month, has also flown immigrants who entered Texas illegally to Massachusetts and California.

“We do not tolerate illegal immigration, let alone lawlessness committed by illegal aliens who shouldn’t be here in the first place. The bills I signed (Friday) further enhance Florida’s capabilities to uphold the law,” DeSantis said.

The governor tied the driver’s license bill signed Friday to a Florida law that already bars immigrants in the country illegally from obtaining one. It increases the maximum sentence for anyone convicted of driving without a license twice or more from 60 days in jail to a year — this also applies to U.S. citizens and immigrants in the country legally.

Some immigrant support groups have criticized the bill, saying it endangers the public’s safety as many immigrants barred from getting a license will still drive — they just won’t have been tested or buy insurance. Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., issue driver’s licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“True safety is achieved through comprehensive measures such as driver education, issuing driver’s licenses to all qualified drivers, and access to insurance — not through punitive enforcement,” Renata Bozzetto of the Florida Immigrant Coalition said in a recent statement. “Rather than criminalizing individuals, the Republican legislature in Florida should work to invest in initiatives that promote driver safety, address disparities in the licensing process, and ensure equitable access to transportation for all residents.”

Another bill increases the maximum prison sentences for immigrants who are convicted of felonies after having been previously deported from the country for illegal entry.

For example, such immigrants convicted of low-level felonies like simple burglary or car theft would face a maximum sentence of 15 years instead of the five-year sentence that is the crime’s normal maximum. Such immigrants convicted of mid-level felonies like aggravated battery would face a maximum sentence of 30 years instead of the 15-year sentence that is those crimes’ normal maximum. And higher-level felonies like armed robbery could now carry a life sentence for such immigrants instead of the normal maximum sentence of 30 years.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Florida Immigrant Coalition did not respond to requests for comment on this bill.

National News

Associated Press

2 people were taken to a hospital after lightning struck a tree near a PGA Tour event in Connecticut

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Two people were taken to the hospital Saturday after lightning struck a tree near a home along a golf course that is hosting the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship. The home is just north of the fifth green at TPC River Highlands, which is hosting the tournament one week after the U.S. […]

49 minutes ago

Associated Press

Rains, cooler weather help firefighters gain ground on large wildfires in southern New Mexico

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — Recent rains and cooler weather are helping more than 1,000 firefighters gain ground on two wildfires in southern New Mexico on Saturday that have killed two people, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to flee. Fire crews took advantage of temperatures in the 70s, scattered showers and light winds to […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

One dead, seven injured after shooting at Kentucky nightclub

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — One person is dead and seven others were injured after a shooting at a Kentucky nightclub early Saturday morning, authorities say. Louisville Metro Police Department officials said they responded to a call of several people shot at the H20 nightclub in Louisville just before 1 a.m. One man, 40-year-old Joseph D. […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Man trying to drown 2 children on Connecticut beach is stopped by officers, police say

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A man trying to drown two small children at a Connecticut beach early Saturday morning was thwarted by police officers, according to authorities. An officer spotted an SUV parked on a beach in West Haven at about 2:30 a.m. and heard “significant screaming” from the water as he approached. As […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Senate in Massachusetts passes bill curtailing use of plastics including bags, straws

BOSTON (AP) — The state Senate in Massachusetts has passed a wide-ranging bill curtailing the use of plastics, including barring the purchase of single-use plastic bottles by state agencies. The bill, approved Thursday, also bans carry-out plastic bags at retailers statewide and require stores to charge 10 cents for recycled paper bags. It also requires […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Flooding forces people from homes in some parts of Iowa while much of US broils again in heat

Floodwaters forced people out of their homes in parts of Iowa, the result of weeks of rain, while much of the United States longed for relief Saturday from yet another round of extraordinary heat. Sirens blared at 2 a.m. in Rock Valley, Iowa, population 4,200, where people in hundreds of homes were told to get […]

9 hours ago

DeSantis signs bills that he says will keep immigrants living in the US illegally from Florida