Arizona-Style Immigration Bill Introduced in Florida Senate

Well, with Rick Scott set to take the Governor's chair and Republicans with super-majorities in both houses of the legislature, it was only a matter of time before the Florida GOP got cracking on delivering Arizona-style immigration laws in the sunshine state. Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, fired the first shot today in what's sure to be a long and heated battle by introducing a bill that could even punish legal immigrants.

Bennett's bill would allow law enforcement officers to ask for identification if they feel a suspect may be in the country illegally. Though, by the letter at least, they'll be forbidden from using race as a factor for asking for identification.

That means, essentially, that everyone needs to carry proof of citizenship on them at all times. Legal aliens who are caught without carrying proper documentation could end up paying a fine of $100 and serving 20 days in jail.

Bennett hopes the bill cracks down on criminal behavior by illegal immigrants.

"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,'' he tells the News Service of Florida. 75 percent of the population of Miami and the cast of Jersey Shore should be relieved.

Though opponents of such bills feel that racial profiling is sure to take place and that Hispanic citizens will be unfairly targeted.

Gov-elect Scott and many Republican legislators made a point of including such controversial immigration reform in their campaigns. But not all Republicans are on board with the bill.

State Rep. Esteban Bovo has repeatedly said that Florida does not need an Arizona-style bill simply because it does not experience the same type of violent crimes that occur in a border state like Arizona. Many feel the debate over immigration should take a backseat to creating jobs and fixing the economy.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kyle Munzenrieder