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Florida Senate and House introduce different immigration bills

Different versions of immigration legislation are under consideration the Florida House and the Florida Senate. The main difference between the two measures appears to be at what point in the process law enforcement will be required to check into an individual's immigration status. Both measures mandate that all employers in the state use the federal E-Verify system to check whether employees are legal residents.

Florida E-Verify and I-9 compliance attorneys note that Governor Rick Scott signed an executive order on his first day in office mandating the use of the E-Verify system for all state agencies.

The House Judiciary Committee passed a measure Thursday, which allows law enforcement to inquire into an individual's immigration status if the individual is the subject of a criminal investigation or under arrest. The House measure differs from a similar measure enacted last year in Arizona that mandates such an inquiry, based upon reasonable suspicion, in any lawful contact between law enforcement and individuals.

A separate measure has been introduced in the Florida Senate. That measure is not scheduled for its first hearing until next week. The Senate version sets the time when law enforcement can inquire about a person's immigration status a bit later in the process. The Senate measure allows law enforcement to check into immigration status when an individual is in placed in jail.

The sponsors of the measures claim each version is tailored to Florida, and less strict than that passed in Arizona. The measures continue to receive criticism from immigration advocates and members of the Florida business community.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Committee passes 'Florida-style' immigration law," Kathleen Haughney 10 March 2011

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