Florida immigration bill DOA?

In fact, Alexander diluted it because of his own objections to E-Verify, the system that allows employers to check with the federal government to see if an employee is a legal resident. Alexander's bill, whicch withstood a challenge from an amendment proposed by Jacksonville Senator John Thrasher, requires only state employment centers and recipients of public benefits to be screened through that federal database.

Alexander began the debate yesterday by saying, "This has gotten to be one of the more complex and challenging issues facing our state and our nation..caused by an absolute failure by our federal government." He went on to say that the issue has put many "good people in a very awkward position."

Thrasher's amendment would not have mandated, but instead strongly encouraged employers to use E-Verify. If it's discovered that they have hired an undocumented worker, that would lead to a $500 fine. A second fine would have been $1,000, a third $1,500.

But the amendment went down to defeat. So now what?

There is a bill — the Senate's watered-down bill. But there is nothing in the House, and William Snyder was quoted Tuesday night as saying he's not even sure it will come up on Wednesday.

“For the past four months, I have steadfastly maintained my commitment to addressing the problem of illegal immigration in Florida. My proposed comprehensive immigration reform legislation included a reasonable law enforcement component, as well as employment verification.

"At this time, it does not appear that the Senate is able to pass immigration legislation containing these components and procedural rules make it increasingly unlikely that the House will be able to take up a Senate version,” Snyder said.

CL wrote last week how the immigration bill was squeezing Mike Haridopolos. It was interesting to hear Alexander yesterday complain about "Tea Party" types in his own party who wanted to go harder on illegal immigrants, and then to see him almost break down in talking about those actual people who have worked for him on his own farm, and who obviously he had a hard time considering "illegal."

But party politics can be a bitch, and since arguably the winner of the GOP primary will be the one who runs hardest as a conservative, this is being considered a "loss" for Senator Haridopolos as he goes on to challenge Adam Hasner and George LeMieux (among others) for the U.S. Senate nomination. But seeing him last week discuss this in Tallahassee, it didn't look like his heart was in getting a measure passed that would do what is the federal government's job — to detain and deport undocumented citizens in Florida.

J.D. Alexander
  • J.D. Alexander

Showing obvious discomfort with the delicate issue, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos did not begin hearings on a contentious bill aimed at illegal immigrants until yesterday, just three days before the 2011 Florida Legislative session's conclusion.

Last week Haridopolos pulled Miami state Senator Anitere Flores from leading the issue in the Senate, and handed it over to J.D. Alexander, the CEO of an agricultural company, to steer it through.

The move was initially interpreted as a way to make the bill tougher than Flores's proposal, and match it up with the more restrictive House version sponsored by Stuart Representative William Snyder, which rivaled Arizona's controversial SB 1070 legislation in terms of being tough on undocumented immigrants.

But a funny thing happened on the way to having that Senate bill get tougher.

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