Florida's Attempt at Arizona-Style Immigration Bill is Likely Dead

It generated one of the most controversial and heated debates of the legislative session and is a key agenda item for Governor Rick Scott, but it seems likely that conservatives' efforts to pass an Arizona-style immigration bill in Florida is dead, despite the fact both houses are controlled by Republicans. State Senators were unable to come to an agreement over whether to use the E-Verify system in Florida, and with the session ending Friday, it's unlikely the bill will now pass in any form. Updated.

The Senate voted 23-16 to defeat an amendment that would require Florida businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to check employee's immigration status. Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami), the original sponsor of the bill, had refused to include the provision in her original bill, and Sen. J.D. Alexander (R-Lakeland) had taken over the legislation but also argued against E-Verify, noting this his family, which has grown citrus for generations, has employed many immigrant workers.

Sen. John Thrasher (R-St. Augustine), the former chairman of the RPOF, offered up the last-minute amendment to include E-Verify, but it was defeated 23-16.

Thrasher made an outrageous claim that the E-Verify system could have prevented the 9/11 attacks, because many of the hijackers were living in Florida illegally while preparing for the strikes. However, Politifact finds that claim wildly untrue.

"Quit all these one-sided political arguments," said Alexander, according to the Post. "This is not our problem and we're having this problem put on our shoulders and I resent it. And I resent it because we're asked to choose between hard-working people and somebody's uninformed knowledge."

House leaders have indicated that they will not take up the bill without the E-Verify provision. Due to various legislative rules and the looming end of the session, it appears now that no immigration bill will be passed this year.

The apparent defeat is yet another failure for Gov. Rick Scott's agenda. Even as then-mainstream Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum seemed hesitant to get behind the idea of bringing Arizona-style laws to Florida, Scott entered the race and made immigration a key part of his campaign. Yet, the political novice has had trouble time and time again getting many of his main agenda items passed.

Update: The Senate did surprisingly pass a version of the bill this morning. Though, in order for the bill to be voted on in the House, two-thirds of the members most vote to bring it to the floor. With Democrats nearly universally against it, and many Hispanic Republicans uneasy with the language, it still remains unlikely to pass. 

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Kyle Munzenrieder