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Catholic Leaders Speak Out Against Florida Senate Bill 1718

April 14, 2023

Florida Senate Bill 1718 would expand the definition of "human smuggling" to make it a third degree felony for anyone to knowingly and willfully transport into or within Florida, or conceal or harbor within Florida, a person whom they know or reasonably should know entered the country unlawfully. The bill’s provisions also prohibit local governments from issuing community IDs and invalidate out-of-state driver’s licenses for undocumented people. The bills would also increase penalties for businesses who fail to comply with specified provisions relating to employing, hiring, recruiting, or referring unauthorized immigrants for employment. Additionally, hospitals would be required to collect patient immigration status information on admission or registration forms. 

Christie Arnold, Associate for Social Concerns and Respect Life with the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops testified against the bill outlining FCCB's opposition to SB 1718. Recently, the bill was approved by the Senate Rules Committee on a 15-5 vote. 

Bishop Gregory Parkes:

“It’s unfortunate that Florida’s legislative solution to immigration issues in our state would result in the criminalization of providing basic assistance to those who are in the United States seeking relief from political persecution and economic hardship.  We recognize that current immigration policies and systems are broken and in need of comprehensive reform.  However, the proposed SB 1718 is an inadequate response to the reality that many of our immigrant brothers and sisters are facing today and would only serve to force them into the shadows of society.  We can do better.”

Christie Arnold, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, Associate for Social Concerns and Respect Life:

“While supporters of the bill are rightly concerned about inaction on immigration policy at the federal level, the bill creates great harm by prohibiting activities that benefit society and vulnerable members of our communities. 

“The legislation would be harmful to families and citizens, including families with mixed immigration status, who suddenly cannot bring a friend, a neighbor or a loved one to church or to the grocery store or the doctor without risking imprisonment. It essentially criminalizes the Christian call to charity and service, to love our neighbor and to serve the least of our brothers and sisters.

“Its detrimental effects to various sectors of the economy, such as construction and agriculture, would be far-reaching.”   


Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami: