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.
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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.