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Florida Grand Jury Proposes Tax on Wire Transfers to Address Illegal Immigration Issue

A statewide grand jury in Florida, appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis, has recommended new measures to

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regulate immigration, including the implementation of a tax on all wire transfers of money overseas. The grand jury report, released on Monday, also calls for additional restrictions on businesses, such as mandatory checks of prospective employees against a federal immigration database.

While a limited E-Verify mandate was passed earlier this year, it only applied to private companies with 25 or more employees due to pushback from business lobbyists.

Illegal immigration continues to be a significant concern in Congress and on the campaign trail. During his presidential campaign, DeSantis criticized former President Donald Trump for his failure to make Mexico pay for the border wall.

DeSantis pledged to impose charges on remittances to Mexico and other countries to support border enforcement. In an interview with NewsNation in October, DeSantis emphasized his determination to address the issue effectively.

The grand jury report recommends the imposition of a “modest” fee on customers for wire transfers, similar to the one in Oklahoma, which could be around 1.5 percent per transfer. This fee, which would require a supermajority vote in the Legislature for approval, is projected to generate tens of millions of dollars.

The revenue could be allocated for strengthening enforcement, education, or assisting state agencies in dealing with unaccompanied migrant children. The report proposes that legitimate money transfers could be eligible for a refund.

However, implementing such a tax could have a significant impact on areas like South Florida, where a large number of people send money to relatives in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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The governor’s office has not yet commented on the report’s recommendations. Governor DeSantis, a Republican, has been highly critical of the Biden administration’s approach to immigration.

He has allocated millions of dollars to initiatives such as sending Florida law enforcement to the Texas border and transporting migrants who crossed into the country to Martha’s Vineyard and California.

In the summer of 2022, Governor DeSantis petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to establish a statewide grand jury to investigate the transportation of unaccompanied children and migrants into the state, as well as allegations that local authorities were not cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

Comprised of residents from three Republican-leaning counties, this grand jury has now issued five reports. The latest report sharply criticizes the Biden administration’s handling of immigration while also claiming that Florida residents are unaware of the magnitude and negative impact of the illegal immigration industry.

The report estimates that up to 1 million of Florida’s nearly 23 million residents are in the state illegally.

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Impact on the Electability Argument
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The grand jury conducted its investigation with assistance from a statewide prosecutor employed by Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody, who has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over its immigration policies. Moody characterized the report as a “damning indictment” of the Biden administration’s failure to protect the border and the influx of immigrant children, some of whom have been trafficked.

Critics, including Democrats and immigrant advocates, expressed concern about the report’s tone. State Representative Anna Eskamani posted on social media, warning that the report suggests a potential escalation in incendiary language and policies targeting immigrants in the upcoming legislative session.

In addition to proposing fees on wire transfers and revisiting E-Verify requirements, the grand jury made other recommendations. It strongly criticized non-government organizations involved in immigration that reportedly refused to cooperate with the investigation and called for the establishment of a separate grand jury to continue investigating these organizations.

Furthermore, the grand jury accused Miami-Dade County of evading a mandate requiring local authorities to cooperate with federal immigration authorities by exploiting an exemption from detainer requirements for witnesses or crime victims.

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