Florida’s Immigration Bill

The public reaction from the immigration bill introduced in Florida on behalf of state representative William Snyder (R-Stuart) has been anything but acquiescent. Despite the backlash, Rep. Snyder- current chair of the House Judiciary Committee- has been unswerving in his intent to push the bill forward even while there are justifiable claims that point out that it is a copy-cat version of the SB 1070 law introduced in Arizona. According to The Sun-Sentinel, “Snyder said he may tweak the part of his bill, also in Arizona’s law, that would allow state, county and local enforcement officers to question the immigration status of anyone during a ‘lawful stop.’ Instead, law enforcement officers would be able to use such questioning only during a criminal investigation.” This, Rep. Snyder believes, is meant to alleviate concerns about potential racial profiling during traffic stops; moreover, calling potential changes to his bill- still in draft form- a “modification rather than a change in direction.” As it were, Rep. Snyder remains adamant about giving law enforcement more tools to combat illegal immigration.

While state Senator Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) has also sponsored an immigration enforcement bill similar to Rep. Snyder’s abrasive bill, other Republican legislators such as Miami state Rep. Steve Bovo and state Sen. Anitere Flores have opposed this measure. The notion that this arbitrary bill’s enactment would largely disfavor the State of Florida and its residents is, of course, a conviction held by numerous people. Certain pro-immigrant organizations as well as business representatives had the following to say on the matter: “Snyder’s potential removal of the bill’s most controversial components is ‘a step in the right direction’ but does not go far enough to ease the potentially chilling effect such a law could have on the state’s tourism industry and Latin American visitors.” A lobbyist for the business-backed Associated Industries of Florida who coincides with this view, voiced his concern about those adverse effects the bill is already causing, which, on one front, is making it difficult for some businesses to hire international employees due to worries that they may be targeted by the police for looking Hispanic.

Weighing in on the issue, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said that Florida shouldn’t “cut and paste the Arizona law” because our state’s immigration problems are different. “What Arizona did in Arizona is necessarily different than what Florida should do,” Putnam said, “They are a border state and they were attempting to solve problems that are unique to a border state.” The Republican Agriculture Commissioner’s final remarks were, “[a]t the end of the day it has to be a federal solution. This is Congress’ problem that they have to find a solution for. I just don’t hold out a lot of hope that they’re going to get it done.”

While there are plenty who consider this attempted measure to be a wrong move for the state of Florida, there are those who even warn that it may end up being a cataclysmic point of no return for the state if it were to be implemented. In effect, this pernicious concoction of a bill could, apart from alienating and discriminating against a cultural group that make up the majority of the population in some of its major cities, namely Miami; it could showcase the state as being capricious and patently xenophobic, leading the international community and foreign investors from Latin America to perceive us in a disadvantageous manner. The immigration attorneys at Pozo Goldstein, LLP will continue to monitor this on-going, important issue.

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