Florida Mints Joe Arpaio's Dream License Plate

Bill 1070 from Arizona requires immigrants to carry residency papers and allows law enforcement to randomly pull over those suspected of being in the country illegally.

But how will la migra know who to stop? One congressman, Brian Bilbray of California, suggested illegals can be spotted by sartorial profiling. "They will look at the kind of dress you wear -- right down to the shoes, right down to the clothes," he said on Hardball.

If only there was a better way. If only immigrants walked around with name tags to help cops with their "process." In April, the Florida legislature passed a bill creating a new specialty license plate that would make Joe Arpaio swoon.

It's called "Hispanic Achievers," and features a logo of a Spanish galleon against a rising sun, an allusion to conquistadors sailing towards the Americas. Then it reads: "Since 1513. Helping Communities Prosper." Imagine such a thing in Arizona. No longer would cops have to wonder if someone looks "illegal" enough to be stopped, they would just have to look for the citrusy license plate on the back of trucks full of day laborers.

Florida legislators signed off on the bill for different reasons. Wary of the anger the Arizona bill engendered among Hispanics, they were eager to display their Latino bona fides. The license plate had been proposed since 2008, but it was only until this year that proponents had the political winds to bring it to a vote.

The house and the senate both passed the bill unanimously, although, it is worth noting that South Florida state representative, and Congressional candidate, David Rivera was not present for the vote. The bill, which also created a Children First tag and one for veterans of foreign wars, is now waiting for Governor Charlie Crist's signature.

Given that Hispanics are a key voting bloc in the upcoming election, it's not a mystery how the so-tanned-he-could-almost-pass-for-illegal Crist will proceed. The main proponents for the license plate were the National Hispanic Corporate Achievers, a Central Florida business consortium who've pushed for the plate for the last two years and who stand to make a tidy profit from its sale.

The license plate will cost $25 and revenue will be divided for the Corporate Achievers' administrative costs, Central Florida grants, and scholarships. "We want to remind people that we are major contributors to the economy of Florida and the economy of this country," said Danny Ramos, an Orlando cable show host who is founder and board member of the group.

[erik.maza@miaminewtimes.com | on twitter]

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