Florida Bill Introduced To Prevent Immigrant Workers from Getting Arrested For Workplace Injuries
Many people do not realize that the criminalization and arrest of thousands of immigrants hasn’t just been conducted and facilitated by Immigration Enforcement over the last year, but also via workers’ compensation insurance companies, who, according to a recent investigation by ProPublica and NPR, have reportedly been turning in unauthorized immigrants when they report injuries on the job in an effort to avoid making legal payouts. As a result, the Florida legislature is now considering a bill that would block these insurance companies from aiding in the arrest and deportation of immigrants in order to dodge payouts.
NPR and ProPublica documented more than 130 cases as part of their investigation, whereby immigrants who had suffered legitimate workplace injuries ended up facing felony fraud charges when they sought medical care because their employers’ insurers flagged them for law enforcement. As a result, many of these injured workers were deported without first receiving any medical care for serious injuries.
Illegally Charged With Additional Crimes?
Many of these workers were also charged with workers’ compensation fraud even if they never filed claims due to provisions in the law that make it a crime to use false identification in applying for a job. According to the investigation, more than 99 percent of the workers arrested under the statute were Hispanic immigrants working with false papers.
Not only is the law harming workers, but it is also arguably allowing unscrupulous employers to allow for the creation of dangerous, hazardous workplaces, all while taking safety shortcuts and hiring unauthorized immigrants under the premise that they will not be held accountable under the law. It also discourages workers from reporting injuries to their employers, effectively shifting the cost of any associated medical care from the employer to the taxpayer.
Proposed Legislative Reform in Florida
The proposed bill would address this issue by no longer allowing individuals who have not committed actual workers’ compensation fraud to be charged as such simply for using a false identity to obtain employment. This is more in keeping with existing law and policy in Florida, which has always abided by the principle that all Florida workers—whether they are authorized or unauthorized—are entitled to medical care and lost wages if they are injured on the job.
Experienced Florida and Massachusetts Criminal Defense and Civil Rights Lawyers
If you have been arrested and charged after your civil rights were violated, you should work with an attorney who is knowledgeable in both criminal and civil rights law. It is not legal for a police officer or anyone else to falsely accuse you of a crime because they suspect that you might be an illegal immigrant, with the ultimate goal of having you deported. Contact our experienced civil rights and criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out more.