Friday, February 08, 2008

Florida legislators propose immigration enforcement bills

Florida state legislators have unveiled a series of immigration-enforcement bills which would make it tougher to hire illegal immigrants, limit public services illegals can receive and penalize anyone who brings illegals into Florida.

The majority of the bills echo legislation proposed in other states across the country. One is a response to a unique problem facing Florida: the growing number of Cubans and others smuggled across the Florida Straits every month.

In introducing the bills, Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, said 'We want to make sure the state of Florida can do everything in its power to deal with illegals. It's a federal issue, but there are things states can do.' Harrell proposed a law making it illegal for state funds to go to day labor centers where illegal immigrants are among those seeking work.

Rep. Don Brown, R-DeFuniak Springs, sponsored the most comprehensive bill, much of which simply codifies existing practices or parallels federal law. It would also prohibit cities from restricting efforts to enforce immigration laws, pre-empt municipalities from creating so-called 'sanctuary cities' for illegal immigrants, and would require drivers licenses to be issued only to U.S. citizens or those with legal status in Florida.

Brown's proposal would affect Florida business by requiring that anyone contracting with the state participate in the federal government's volunteer worker verification program. Under the program, employers run the names of prospective employees through Social Security and Department of Homeland Security databases.

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