Miami Activists Deliver Letter to Bill McCollum: Florida Doesn't Need Arizona's SB 1070

At 10:30 this morning, twenty local activists will descend on Attorney General Bill McCollum's Miami office on Brickell Avenue bearing a letter with a simple message: Back off Arizona's SB 1070.

McCollum, the brilliant legal mind who spent six figures of your tax dollars to hire Rent Boy George Rekers to deny Florida's gay couples the right to adopt, has filed a legal brief in support of Arizona's law and hinted that he'd be AOK with Florida adopting similar legislation.

"It's a shockingly bad law and any attempt to bring it to Florida is a shockingly bad idea," says Subhash Kateel of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

The letter, which you can read in full at the end of this post, points out Florida's history as a melting pot of Hispanic cultures and asks whether any attorney general should be supporting a law that could put law enforcement personnel in a tough spot.

"By engaging in this political posturing, you actually erode the integrity of police work, undermine public safety and divide our state," the letter says. "When you merge the role of law enforcement with immigration enforcement, victims and witnesses of crime are less likely to come forward, as shown in recent polling in south Florida."

A federal judge yesterday put a temporary hold on some of the more controversial sections of SB 1070, including requirements that immigrants carry their legal documents at all times and that police check immigration status of anyone they pull over.

But Kateel says the injunction won't slow efforts to overturn the law altogether.

"You have to remember that this injunction is temporary," Kateel says. "And there are a lot of other troubling requirements that the judge didn't put a stop to."

Here's the full letter, which is signed by several dozen local organizations: Sign-OnMcCullomLetter.pdf

We've asked McCollum's office to respond to the letter. If and when we hear back, we'll update this blog. Here's a statement the attorney general released yesterday about the judge's injuction:

Today, the sovereignty of states has been dealt a serious blow by the judge's order blocking implementation of some of the most significant provisions of Arizona's immigration law. The order will prevent law enforcement from performing critical functions under that law while the Court deliberates on the constitutionality of the law's key provisions. The Obama Administration continues its efforts to strip rights away from our states, and we should all be very concerned about these repeated intrusions.

My office will continue to actively support Arizona in the legal fight challenging this law. I will also continue working with Representative Will Snyder, House Chairman of Criminal and Civil Justice Policy Council, to draft legislation for Florida's version of the Arizona immigration law that will strengthen our immigration laws and give law enforcement additional tools in combating illegal immigration.

I was pleased to see that the provisions in the Arizona law requiring all Arizona businesses use E-verify to check the status of their employees and eliminating sanctuary cities were not blocked from taking effect. I look forward to discussing the use of the E-verify system by Florida state agencies at tomorrow's Cabinet meeting.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink