Attorney General Bill McCollum News Release
|August 11, 2010
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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Attorney General, Rep. Snyder Unveil Legislation to Crack Down on Illegal Immigration
~ New legislation similar to Arizona’s immigration law ~
ORLANDO, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today joined Representative William Snyder and other legislative leaders to unveil proposed legislation aimed at curbing illegal immigration in the State of Florida. The proposed legislation will require law enforcement officers to check suspected illegal immigrants’ status in the course of a lawful stop, require Florida businesses to use the E-Verify system to ensure new hires are legally authorized to work, and enhance penalties for illegal aliens who commit crimes in Florida.
“This legislation will provide new enforcement tools for protecting our citizens and will help our state fight the ongoing problems created by illegal immigration,” said Attorney General McCollum. “Florida will not be a sanctuary state for illegal aliens.”
Like Arizona, the draft legislation requires aliens to carry immigration documentation or face a misdemeanor carrying a sentence of up to 20 days in jail for the first offense. The proposal also makes it a misdemeanor for an illegal alien not authorized to work to seek employment in the state of Florida.
Rep. William Snyder (R-Stuart), Chairman of the House Criminal and Civil Justice Policy Council, drafted the bill with Attorney General McCollum.
“Floridians want to see their elected officials provide leadership to the challenges of illegal aliens living our state,” said Chairman Snyder. “This proposal is a significant step forward in confronting illegal immigration.”
After parts of Arizona’s law were struck down in a federal court two weeks ago, attorneys in the Attorney General’s Office reviewed the ruling and made changes to the draft legislation to strengthen it against potential constitutional challenges.
The proposal also goes one step further than Arizona’s law by giving judges and law enforcement more tools in dealing with illegal immigrants from bond through sentencing. Under the proposal, judges would be allowed to specifically consider a defendant’s unlawful presence in the process of setting his or her bond. The legislation also creates a sentencing enhancement so that illegal aliens who commit crimes in the State of Florida will face increased prison time. This provision is similar to the gang statute that Attorney General McCollum and Rep. Snyder worked to pass in 2008, which increases penalties for criminal gang members who commit crimes in the furtherance of a gang.
Also in attendance at today’s announcement were Representative Sandy Adams (R-Oviedo), Representative Stephen Precourt (R-Orlando), Representative Eric Eisnaugle (R-Orlando) and Representative Scott Plakon (R-Longwood).
Rep. Plakon recently requested an official opinion from the Attorney General’s Office, seeking clarification about Florida's authority to enforce federal criminal immigration laws. The Attorney General’s Office today released an informal opinion to Rep. Plakon, advising him that Florida law enforcement already have discretion to check the immigration status when making an arrest and that state laws related to immigration are not automatically preempted by federal law. A copy of the informal opinion is available online at: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-888HBW/$file/PlakonOpinion.pdf