According to an examiner.com report, Florida’s Attorney General Bill McCollum, and a GOP gubernatorial candidate, yesterday announced a bill to be introduced in the Florida Legislature that will rival Arizona’s embattled immigration law.
This requirement of “reasonable suspicion” – legal buzz words that mean something less than “probable cause”, sets this bill apart from the Arizona law, according to McCollum. The bill also allows judges to consider a defendant’s immigration status when setting bond amounts and in allowing prosecutors to bring higher-level charges against illegal immigrants and stiffer sentences at conviction.
Also different than the Arizona law, the AG’s bill would not allow citizens to sue police agencies for failing to enforce the law – this would instead be left to the Attorney General’s office. Employing illegal immigrants would also become a violation of state criminal law, and the bill would require businesses to use the federal E-Verify program before hiring anyone. The Florida bill specifically prohibits racial profiling.
A federal judge postponed the implementation of various portions of the Arizona law in July, including a section that required officers to check an individual’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. The Department of Justice brought suit challenging the law on supremacy grounds – that the federal government has the responsibility of creating and administering immigration laws, and that the states cannot implement such laws.
McCollum’s challenger, Rick Scott, accused the Attorney General of “flip-flopping,” according to Scott’s communications director. She attributed the proposal to McCollum’s sliding poll numbers.
Immigrant-advocacy groups denounced the bill immediately. Cheryl Little, the Executive Director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center in Miami, released a statement criticizing the bill, saying that it would add chaos and confusion to an already broken system.