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The chairwoman of Florida’s Democratic Party is criticizing a new state law that requires workers in Florida to be legal residents or legal immigrants. Nikki Fried, who is in her first year as the Democrats’ state chair, said the state’s new law, which was originally drafted as state senate bill 1718, is leading to staffing shortages, and causing food prices to increase, without citing any hard evidence, and despite the fact that the bill hadn’t been in effect for more than a few days when she made the claim.

The law requires that private employers with more than 25 employees use the federal government’s E-Verify system for newly hired employees. Fried described the bill as “anti-immigrant”, and “anti-worker”, despite the fact that no legal immigrants and no legal workers are at risk of violating the new law.

“Over the past month, we’ve seen empty construction sites, fields without farmers, and restaurants short staffed,” Fried said. This anti-immigrant law is a disaster for our economy with a direct impact on our largest industries from agriculture, tourism and construction, but also it will have a direct impact on our cost of living. With fewer workers, the cost of food will increase, construction of homes will be delayed, and costs will rise. We already have a housing shortage, and now we won’t have enough people to build more affordable homes.”

During a guest appearance on MSNBC, Fried said that Florida Democrats attempted to fight the new law during this year’s legislative session, and she described the session as the most “most anti-worker, anti-female, anti, basically every community that is marginalized, anti -freedom and anti-democracy.”

Florida Democrats chose to make Nikki Fried their new leader. The Democrats’ selection of Fried for for state chair came after she lost to Charlie Crist in the gubernatorial primary but 25 points and more than 368,000 votes, despite Crist’s own streak of losses in statewide races in general elections. Prior to her selection as party chair Fried’s most notable accomplishment in government was in 2018, when she edged-out state representative Matt Caldwell (R) by less than one percent in the for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer. Fried’s lopsided loss to Crist was followed by incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis defeating Crist by one of the largest margin in Florida’s history.

Fried has remarkable challenges ahead, including voter registration deficits. In 2018, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by nearly 300,000. Today, Florida Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by 400,000.

Matt O'Hern

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