Miami-Dade County Commissioners asks State not to pass immigration bills, pushes for reform at federal level

MIAMI – The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners has passed legislation authored by Vice Chairwoman Audrey M. Edmonson that advocates for better immigration reform. The Vice Chairwoman’s resolution urges the Florida Legislature not to pass any state legislation related to immigration, while supporting comprehensive immigration reform at a federal level.

Particularly, Vice Chairwoman Edmonson wants to avoid legislation similar to Arizona’s immigration bill SB 1070. While the final version of SB 1070 did include language prohibiting racial profiling, the controversial bill nonetheless requires immigrants to carry with them documents verifying their immigration status and also requires police officers to determine immigration status during any lawful stop, detention or arrest if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally. According to Edmonson’s resolution, it is estimated that Arizona’s passage of SB 1070 triggered financial implications that included the loss of $217 million in direct spending by convention attendees and tourists, along with an additional $535.4 million in lost tax revenues, economic output and earnings.

“Immigration is a federal responsibility that should be left in the hands of the federal government to address, not the state. The last thing state lawmakers want to condone is racial profiling, even under the good intentions of protecting our nation,” said Vice Chairwoman Edmonson. “Almost half the population of Miami-Dade alone is of residents born in another country. Immigration bills similar to Arizona’s could potentially violate these peoples’ rights. There are better ways to address illegal immigration, such as better protection of our borders. Racial profiling and could adversely impact Florida’s economy, deterring international tourists from traveling to Florida, and e-verify aspects of the immigration bills considered during the 2011 session would place additional burdens on Florida businesses to determine immigration status.”

A federal judge in Arizona eventually blocked the most controversial parts of SB 1070 from taking effect, including provisions of the law that required immigrants to carry alien registration documentation with them. During the 2011 session, the Florida Legislature considered Senate and House bills related to immigration that would have required immigration checks of inmates, and also would have required employers to use the federal e-verify system to verify employees’ immigration status. In addition, it was proposed that immigration checks be required when a person is under a criminal investigation and there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal immigrant.

A diverse group of business associations, faith-based groups, labor and civil rights organizations and immigrant groups opposed the Florida Legislature passing immigration legislation. After contentious debate on the Senate floor, no immigration bill passed the Florida Legislature during the 2011 session. However, Governor Rick Scott has expressed his support for state legislation addressing illegal immigration during the 2012 session, and some members of the Florida Legislature have indicated their intention to file illegal immigration bills for consideration during the 2012 session.

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