Businesses and elected officials on both sides of the aisle have already voiced staunch opposition to this legislation, yet Gov. Ron DeSantis remains intent on moving forward with this destructive policy.

Mandating Florida employers to participate in a federal E-Verify program like the one currently being proposed in the Florida Legislature will have severe negative consequences for the state’s economy and industries key to our success; including our agriculture, tourism, health care, and construction industries. The economic consequences would be particularly dire in the South Florida region.

>>>Related content: Editorial: E-verify, meant to crack down on illegal immigration, could crack Florida’s economy

Businesses and elected officials on both sides of the aisle have already voiced staunch opposition to this legislation, yet Gov. Ron DeSantis remains intent on moving forward with this destructive policy.

Last month, under pressure from the governor, state Sen. Joe Gruters and Rep. Cord Byrd -- who were also key advocates for the harmful anti-immigrant sanctuary city legislation passed last session -- introduced SB 1822 and HB 1265, respectively. This legislation would require employers who do business in Florida to participate in the federal E-Verify program, an online system operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that verifies the immigration status of all new hires.

These proposals, presented as a way to temper illegal immigration, would impose unnecessary regulations on key Florida industries and effectively shift the costs and responsibilities of immigration enforcement from the federal government to local businesses.

According to a newly released study commissioned by the nonprofit and undertaken by Economic Consulting Services, an E-Verify mandate would be devastating for the health of the Florida economy.

By design, E-Verify would directly target undocumented workers. When not coupled with comprehensive reforms to fix our broken immigration system, the costs are severe.

Undocumented workers are critical contributors to Florida’s economy. With an estimated 440,000 undocumented immigrants currently working or looking for work in Florida, they contribute up to $36.5 billion in annual earnings to the Florida economy and are associated with over 868,000 jobs and nearly $4 billion in annual state and local tax revenue in the state.

According to the study, by targeting this critical workforce, an E-Verify mandate would result in a decreased level of economic activity across the state, a loss of 140,000 undocumented workers, and the effective forfeiture of billions of dollars each year. The domino effect of this would be a net loss of 253,000 jobs in Florida, $10.66 billion in lost earnings, and $1.25 billion in lost state and local tax revenue each year.

With unemployment at 3.2 percent, there are more job openings than there are employees in the state of Florida, and we need to utilize the workforce available to us. Further, mandatory E-Verify would place intrusive, expensive burdens on business owners and ultimately consumers.

The accommodation and food service industries are projected to be the most heavily impacted by mandatory E-Verify, followed by construction, agriculture, retail trade, and health care -- industries crucial to Florida’s economic success. And while the impact would be felt throughout the state, South Florida would be the hardest hit.

The adoption of mandatory E-Verify would also put Florida’s businesses at a significant disadvantage compared to our economic competitors, namely California, New York and Texas.

For Florida to remain an economic powerhouse, and for it to thrive and remain competitive, we must continue to be a welcoming state for immigrants and businesses alike. Mandatory E-Verify is a self-inflicted recession waiting to happen.

The facts are clear, if mandated, E-Verify would be disastrous for Florida’s economy and businesses. We hope Florida’s lawmakers will consider the impact E-Verify would have and instead look for ways to support and grow Florida’s blossoming economy, rather than crush it.

Mandatory E-Verify is wrong for business, wrong for our communities, and wrong for Florida.


Editor’s note: Harper, of Economic Consulting Services Inc., authored the 2020 report, “Assessing the Impact of Mandatory E-Verify Adoption for Florida". Hutchinson is Florida director of, a non-profit pro-immigrant advocacy group created by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other tech executives who want Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.