Report: Mexico Funds Lawsuit for Illegal Migrants in Florida


The Mexican government has funded a lawsuit for illegal migrants in Florida who are facing human smuggling charges and prison time under Gov. Ron DeSantis’s law curbing illegal migration.

DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1718 (SB 1718 , into law in May 2023, which requires employers to use an E-verify system to check potential candidates’ employment eligibility, prevents undocumented migrants from receiving a driver’s license, and increases penalties for human smuggling.

After the law went into effect last July, several migrants, including Raquel Lopez Aguilar, 41, were arrested by Florida law enforcement and highway patrol officials. Aguilar has been imprisoned since his arrest for transporting illegal aliens working as roofers and faces up to 20 years in prison, but the Mexican government has been paying for his legal bills, according to the Guardian.

Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, waves as he arrives to a news conference in Matlacha, Florida, on Oct. 5, 2022. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“We will win this case,” Juan Sabines, a Mexican Consul in Orlando told 10 Tampa Bay, adding that “nobody is illegal in this world.”

Under SB 1718, human smuggling is defined as, “knowingly transporting five or more illegal aliens or a single illegal alien minor.” Penalties for human smuggling include receiving a second-degree felony, the possibility of facing a $10,000 fine, and up to 15 years in prison.

Greg Allen, a correspondent for NPR reported that the “arresting officer said he stopped” Aguilar’s van “because it had, quote, ‘obviously darker-than-legal hint on the rear windows, and the windshield had several large cracks”:

Raquel Lopez Aguilar was driving a van with six other people on board when he was pulled over by state troopers in August. The arresting officer said he stopped the van because it had, quote, “obviously darker-than-legal tint on the rear windows, and the windshield had several large cracks.” Border Patrol agents were called. The report says Lopez Aguilar told them he and the others were traveling from Georgia to Tampa. He was arrested and charged with four counts of human smuggling. Lopez Aguilar’s defense is being paid for by the Mexican government under a program that provides legal help to nationals in the U.S. Mexico’s consul in Orlando has called Lopez Aguilar’s arrest, quote, “complete injustice.” He’s visited Lopez Aguilar in jail and has scheduled a news conference tomorrow. Lopez Aguilar is believed to be the first person arrested under a Florida law. If convicted, he would face up to five years in prison on each of the four counts of human smuggling. When Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the law in May, he bragged it was the toughest migrant legislation in the country.

U.S. District Judge Roy Altman issued a ruling in May blocking law enforcement officials in the state from enforcing the part of SB 1718 defining the transportation of illegal migrants as being human smuggling, according to Florida Phoenix. Altman is expected to hear arguments later in June regarding whether or not he should keep his ruling banning law enforcement officials from enforcing the human smuggling part of SB 1718.

Texas and Florida Highway Patrol troopers arrest a group of migrants along the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas. (Randy Clark/Breitbart Texas)

DeSantis’s migration law has faced sharp criticism from people arguing that it has resulted in a loss of migrant workers in the state who are willing to work for cheap pay. In July 2023, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Farmworker Association of Florida, and the American Immigration Council launched a lawsuit against DeSantis’s migration reform law.

The groups claimed that DeSantis’s law penalized “a wide array of conduct that Congress chose not to prohibit,” and it also “impedes the federal immigration scheme by preventing immigrants from entering Florida.”

While the law is regarded as not being good for illegal aliens in Florida, who may be willing to work as cheap labor, DeSantis’s migration reform law is good for American workers as it lowers housing costs and makes businesses increase their wages for employees.

Mexico has long supported illegal migration into the United States and maintains offices in cities throughout the nation in order to assist Mexicans in gaining U.S. legal status and sending money back to Mexico.

DeSantis’s law is a target for Mexico because, under SB 1718, it makes it more difficult for employers to hire Mexican migrants, who would accept low wages, instead of hiring better-paid Americans.