Florida Lawmakers Tackle Immigration

Immigration reform is a top priority in the Florida legislature. Republican leaders say more has to be done to crack down on people living and working in the state illegally. They've written a measure that critics say mirrors Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

From Tampa Bay to Orlando, down to Miami and beyond, they've come here by the hundreds, holding giant signs, with one unified message… 'Immigrants are the solution, not the problem'.

At issue – a pair of fast-moving immigration enforcement bills.

One would require employers to use the e-verify program to confirm that job applicants are here legally. It would also require Florida prisoners to be transferred to federal authorities if they're found to be illegal immigrants, but the more controversial bill is being described by critics as a carbon copy of Arizona's new law – the one that allows law enforcement to question people about their immigration status.

Republicans call the legislation sorely needed, but Sarasota Mayor Kelly Kirschner traveled here to make the point Florida's a lot different than Arizona.

“The impact on agriculture in our state, the impact on our hotel/restaurant industry, the impact on cost to cities and counties, none of this being discussed,” she said. “This is an emotional issue that we understand is driven by anger and frustration in a really difficult recession.”

Republicans point out they've taken a very measured approach on this issue, holding special committee meetings beginning back in January to hear from everybody in an attempt to craft a policy that's fair.

Both bills are still in the committee process, but critics say they're concerned the republican majority ill move quickly to hold votes possibly before the end of the month.

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  • by kathy Location: hartford on Mar 20, 2011 at 06:36 AM
    You know , I am an immigrant , I have been here almost 26 years , well the law changed , so now I am facing , having to leave , I chosse not to get married and I wont be able to renew my permanent residence.. hey Im not complaining .. But I followed the law , I was here legal.. and as am immigrant I have to say , get your darn papers in order.if you want to come here, by george I did... but with the change of the law , many of us, that always had their stuff together , have to leave , its hard to pick up your life after so many years , but you do what you have to do ,, at least I can come back to visit anytime , and I know I will always love this country , well befor haters say anything ,no I can not take the citizenship test , I have to be married 3 years , and no I will not get married for this , that would be wrong tyvm , so I take what ever I have to do , and comply with the law....:(
  • by Anonymous Location: dothan on Mar 19, 2011 at 05:07 PM
    So If I read you correctly it's ok for someone to come into your home and use what they want just so they dont physically harm you?
  • by Susie Q Location: Chipley on Mar 18, 2011 at 03:53 PM
    There's already thousands of people living off the tax payer and they are legal.There's already thousands of dollars owed to hospitals that will never be payed,and legal people are responsible for it.We already have a big problem with our citizens that don't work and lay up on the welfare.They say illegals take our jobs, well I know they'll take jobs that a legal person wouldn't because the pay isn't a big some, or it's a farm job.The illegal alien will work rings around a legal citizen because they are proud of the work, but there's always welfare for the legal man to fall back on.
  • by Anonymous Location: slocomb on Mar 18, 2011 at 10:55 AM
    If they coming over here working and not causing trouble I say leave them alone and let them be happy..just because they illegal doesn't always make them bad people..we as people are always quick to judge a book by its cover and reading the inside
    • reply
      by Frank Bowers on Mar 18, 2011 at 11:38 AM in reply to
      Many years ago as I was becoming a sales man for insurance a wise old man told the story. Regardless of how good something might be such as a cake with nice white icing on it all one has to do is place a few grains of sand in the icing to make no one take more than a bite or so. The same go for an illegal alien all she/he has to do is start having kids and not paying tax and we then have a big problem at the hospital first with no pay, next at the clinic with no pay, then the precinct with not pay for food stamps when you add 200 to 400 thousand then you have a big problem you will never see just one illegal alien you will always see a crowd of them. They will live off the tax payers until we force them out and this is what this is about the tax payers are tired. Frank Bowers, FIC, Austin, TX
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Mar 18, 2011 at 07:28 PM in reply to Frank Bowers
        But that also goes 2 ways..all I'm saying is if they are coming here to better themselves and do good leave them alone bc there's bad apples in every bunch...
  • by Tillis DF on Mar 18, 2011 at 07:20 AM
    When is Alabam going to pass an Arizona type illegal alien law? The Wiregrass is flooded with illegals. One was just busted for rape.
  • by Stuart Location: Enterprise on Mar 18, 2011 at 05:33 AM
    All states should have such laws before it is too late.
  • by Joey Location: Dothan on Mar 17, 2011 at 07:18 PM
    I dont see anything wrong with questioning people about their citizenship status. I know I have to give my citizenship status to any company I work for. If we can give it to a private company we certainly should have no trouble providing it to the police. Also being her illegal should become a crime so it could be punished using the punishment suggested by the thirteenth amendment for someone duly convicted of a crime.
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