Miami. Benjamín Pérez makes a living cleaning houses in Miami. He works without legal permission, like thousands of other foreigners who form an essential workforce for the state of Florida. The future of all of them now hangs by a thread due to a recently approved immigration law.
The initiative promoted by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis seeks, among other things, to prevent the hiring of undocumented people.
Starting July 1, companies with more than 25 employees will have to check a federal database for the legal status of the people they want to employ. Hiring a foreigner in an irregular situation will entail large fines.
Pérez, 40, has lived and worked in the United States for two decades, but fears that he will no longer be able to do so. Like many, he left his native Mexico, seeking a better economic situation. He was a bricklayer until an injury forced him to change sectors.
He now lives in an apartment in downtown Miami with his Nicaraguan wife and one of her nephews. All three work. No one is allowed to do so.
The American dream is nothing more than that, a dream,” he adds. “The government corners us more every day. We’re practically worthless now.”
In Florida, with 22.2 million inhabitants, 772,000 undocumented migrants live, according to an estimate by the Migration Policy Institute think tank.
The new law could cause annual losses of $12.6 billion to the state’s economy by reducing labor, spending by undocumented migrants and the taxes they pay.
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