Bradenton state Senator Mike Bennett has been in the news in the past few days with his immigration enforcement bill that he has just filed. The proposal would allow law enforcement officers during a lawful detention or arrest to ask for the detainee's immigration documents if the officer suspects they may be in the country illegally. The bill prohibits law enforcement from using race as a reason for checking the person's immigration status or documentation. The bill also penalizes legal aliens who refuse to carry their documentation, with a possible fine of up to $100 and a 20-day jail sentence.
The Bradenton legislator says his intent is to go after the criminal element involved in illegal immigration, but says he doesn't want to make this about racial profiling, saying, "I don't think anyone is looking for a bill that has a police officer stopping everyone on the street who has a tan or dark hair."
It's interesting that Bennett is the first out of the chute with an anti-illegal immigration package, since it was Representative Will Snyder from Stuart who made headlines back in August when he appeared at a news conference with Attorney General Bill McCollum introducing a similar styled bill that McCollum said at the time would be the envy of what the great state of Arizona had produced to stem their problems with undocumented people crossing the Mexican border.
Snyder still hasn't formally introduced his bill yet, but according to Kathleen Haughney with the Florida News Service, Snyder is hesitant to go forward until he has some sort of Hispanic buy-in from some of his fellow legislators, saying:
"The reality is the members of the Hispanic community are very nervous about this. I don't think it is right for us to blow past that."
Haughney reports that Snyder says that he wants to make sure everything is copacetic with the Legislature's Hispanic caucus chair, state Representative Esteban Bovo of Miami, who we heard speak about similar type of legislation during a conference call earlier this year, and he seemed extremely reticent about such proposals.
"I won't do one thing with that bill, whether a committee hearing or a change, without him seeing it," Snyder said. "Not one comma."