Undocumented migrants are being forced to leave Florida under new immigration law (includes photo essay)

This photo essay follows Abby, an undocumented immigrant and beauty content creator in Florida, as she grapples with the reality of leaving home because of new immigration law SB1718. We see her last days creating content, her struggle with the news, and her departure, taking us on her emotional journey into an unforeseen future.

As her final post concludes, a bittersweet feeling of excitement and doubt begins to simmer. Staring blankly at her mirror, she finishes applying the last touch of makeup, leaving her reflecting on why she has to go.

Being an undocumented immigrant, the effects of SB1718 on Abby and her family are severe. For them, it’s vital to stay informed on everything about it as much as possible. SB1718 was passed on July 1st, 2023, and it is an anti-immigrant law that forces businesses with more than 25 employees to use the e-verify employment eligibility system, forces hospitals to inquire about patients’ immigration status, criminalizes undocumented immigrants for traveling in and out of the state, and criminalizes anyone who shelters or transports them into the state.

Sitting outdoors with a coffee and her laptop, Abby researches for possible solutions and for organizations that help people just like her.

As Abby sits intently at her laptop, the reality of her situation becomes clearer. She continues research on the new law and takes notes on the important things to understand. The laptop reads, “The 5 Main Things You Need to Know About DACA Right Now.”

Abby and her sister stand side by side, looking out over the lake near their home. It’s a moment of quiet contemplation for them, knowing it might be their last time here. Abby consoles her sister letting her know that everything will be okay.

Packing her belongings was another bittersweet moment for her. Her life uprooted, these belongings will forever remind her of home and all of the beautiful memories her and her family created here.

Of the many boxes and suitcases Abby’s packed, this one stands out. It’s filled with items that are more than just belongings; they’re pieces of her life in Florida that she can’t leave behind. It’s a personal collection of what matters most to her.

The rearview mirror shows only Abby’s eyes, offering a glimpse into her state of mind as she drives to the airport. Moving on to the journey ahead, she prepares for her final moments in her home.

Abby drives past the ‘departures’ sign at the airport, a vivid reminder of the difficult journey ahead and the emotional weight of having to leave her home behind.

Abby arrives at the airport, the scene busy with planes that have landed and are soon to depart.

Abby stands at Terminal 4, the reality setting in. SB1718 has forced her on to a path she never planned, as she stares down a future redirected by law. The emotions of frustration and disappointment are clear as she prepares to leave her home for what could be a very long time.

Jorge is a Puerto Rican native majoring in digital communication and media with a minor in marketing. After graduation, he plans on pursuing a career in the world of film editing and production with the ultimate goal of creating his own project while representing the Latino community through his art.

Zeth Leon is of Cuban descent. He is currently a Junior at FIU majoring in Digital Communications and Media with a concentration in digital broadcasting. After graduation, he plans to incorporate his love for sports into his work by becoming a play-by-play commentator or talk show host for a sports network.