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Florida Senate Begins Anti-Immigration Bill Hearings

The chief Florida Senate sponsor of a proposed Arizona-style anti-immigration bill has expressed reservations about the measure. Florida Senator Mike Bennett has expressed concerns over the provision in the bill that parallels Arizona "reasonable suspicion" standard of triggering an investigation of a person's immigration status.

Bennett admits that despite an explicit ban in the measure against discrimination, he believes the Florida immigration bill could lead to racial of ethnic profiling. The chief sponsor of the measure reportedly has said, "I might not even vote for it myself." The Florida Senator says he looked to Arizona's law when he drafted the proposed measure for Florida.

Bennett says the measure is being proposed "to start the conversation" about immigration reform in Florida. On Monday, the Florida Senate held the first of three fact-finding hearings regarding a potential anti-immigration measure in the state. A Senate staffer spoke at Monday's "dispassionate" Senate hearing.

The staffer pointed out that according to federal statistics, undocumented discrimination is on the decline. The staffer said undocumented immigration has dropped 8 percent across the country. In Florida, the staffer said the reduction is 25 percent, according to federal statistics.

Ediberto Roman, a professor at Florida International University said an anti-immigration law in this state would be like "Arizona's problems on steroids." A Florida anti-immigration law would be tougher to enforce in this state, especially in light of the special status of Cubans and Haitians in the state.

Bennett, the chief senate sponsor of the anti-immigration legislation does not believe an Arizona style bill will pass in the Senate. The Senator is not opposed to requiring state and possibly all private employers in Florida to participate in the federal E-Verify system.

Francine Hill, a Homeland Security Department expert, however, says E-Verify only detects "mismatches" in immigration and employment data. Federal contractors use E-Verify to check employees, according to Hill. Generally, the E-Verify process can be difficult to navigate. An experienced Florida employment eligibility verification attorney can assist companies to manage any E-Verify compliance and employment verification requirements.

Source: Miami Herald, "Chief sponsor of immigration bill says measure isn't likely to pass Legislature," Marc Caputo 10 Jan 2011

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