Florida Legislature inexorably moves towards bill targeting illegal immigrants - even though the number of them in Florida is down

There has been heavy objections to the bills in the two previous hearings, chaired by Miami Republican Anitere Flores, including from the top of the business establishment, the Florida Chamber of Commerce.  The vice president of that group, Adam Babington, said recently that, "It’s critical that Florida protects its strong brand as a state that welcomes tourists, promotes international trade, and supplies much of the nation’s fruits and vegetables."

A variety of Latino advocacy groups, including the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Voto Latino and the Farmworker Association of Florida, will have their members journey to Tallahassee to observe the proceedings.

Juan Pablo Chavez from the Florida Immigrant Coalition, warns that the Snyder/Bennett bill would lead to racial profiling, saying:

"These bills are an attack to our immigrant communities who have greatly contributed to Florida’s progress. It is impossible to enforce them without racially profiling any person who looks foreign, including citizens, tourists and businesspeople who visit the sunshine state.”

The third and last of three fact-finding hearings convened by the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee on proposed crackdown legislation on illegal immigration takes place Monday afternoon in Tallahassee.

To say that the proposed legislation, sponsored in the House by Republican Will Snyder and in the Senate by Bradenton's Mike Bennett, is controversial in the Sunshine State, would be a bit of an understatement.  And it didn't really help the cause when Senator Bennett said last month that he might not even vote for his own proposal.

The final Judiciary Committee hearing comes after a Pew report released last week showed  a 230,000 drop in Florida's illegal immigration numbers — the most dramatic decrease of any state in the country.

But Stuart Representative Will Snyder was not deterred upon learning that news, saying:

"The illegal immigrant population in Florida is still a substantial one, estimated by the Pew Hispanic Center to currently be 825,000," Snyder said. "I think it is important that we address illegal immigration in the upcoming 2011 Legislative session, and I will continue to gather public input and build a consensus on the best way to implement comprehensive immigration reform that will ultimately reduce illegal immigration into our state."

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