Florida Anti-Immigration Legislation Would Hurt the State

Roughly a year after passage of Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant legislation, S.B. 1070, the Florida state legislature is considering two similar bills. These bills pose a severe economic threat to the state. If passed, they will undoubtedly blight the state’s image, hurt businesses, and alienate the state’s legal immigrant population—all without solving the problem of undocumented immigration.

In the Florida House of Representatives, H.B. 7089, sponsored by Rep. William Snyder (R-Stuart), makes it a crime to be a foreign national without papers. The proposed bill also allows state law enforcement to check the immigration status of any individual if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country illegally, and it requires employers to verify the immigration status of all employees through E-Verify, a web-based system that compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form, or I-9, against federal government databases to verify workers’ employment eligibility.

In the state Senate, Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Kendall) is driving a similar bill, S.B. 2040, through the legislative process. The bill mandates that all employers use E-Verify or a new state-based verification process. The bill also strongly encourages all state and local police to engage in immigration enforcement efforts.

If Florida is serious about providing a bright economic future, then bills aiming to drive millions of people out of the state and placing burdensome costs on employers is the wrong approach.

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