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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Immigration Bill Introduced In Florida Legislature

Immigration Bill Introduced In Florida Legislature 

The Florida Legislature is following in the footsteps of Arizona lawmakers.  Representative William Snyder (R-Stuart) introduced a bill in the Florida House Wednesday that will reform the state’s immigration laws if passed.

The proposed bill is not as restrictive as the Arizona law, but the Florida Immigration Enforcement Act would still have a dramatic impact on the estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants in the state.  The bill would increase the penalties for immigrants unlawfully living in the state and for the employers who willingly hire them.

Derrel Day, a Bay County building contractor, said that’s too much of a burden on employers.  “I don’t know whether it’s a fake ID, I don’t know if it’s a fake social security card… I’m not an identification expert,” Day said.

The construction industry is widely seen as one of the worst offenders.  Northwest Florida lawmen have busted numerous illegals in recent months, notably a December 2010 case involving fraudulent identifications and a May 2010 sweep of BP workers at the Panama City marina.

Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen wrote a letter to state officials seeking help in dealing with illegal immigrants.  Governor Rick Scott made immigration reform a major issue in his campaign.

Representative Jimmy Patronis (R-Panama City) said illegal immigrants are taking money out of Floridians’ pockets.  “They’re utilizing our school systems, they’re utilizing our health care system and they’re a cost to the system that Florida taxpayers are paying for, so this is problematic,” said Patronis.

The law would require employers to use the federal E-Verify system to document residency but would prohibit law enforcement from profiling – a key criticism of the Arizona law.

Day blames the federal government for failing to secure America’s borders.  “It’s an uncomfortable position,” he said, “…I’m not a policeman [and] I don’t think I should be doing the work of the federal government especially after I’ve already paid the federal government to do that.”

Representative Patronis said a lot of debate must take place before lawmakers make a final decision.  Several pro-business groups have already voiced opposition because of the burden it places on employers.

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