Florida is proposing to use “reasonable suspicion” to identify illegal immigrants thereby allowing law enforcement to ask for documentation in a new law proposed by the state’s Attorney General and Republican Gubernatorial candidate, Bill McCollum. Florida state lawmakers had tried in July to introduce an immigration bill but were unsuccessful in garnering the necessary support.
If enacted the law would require everyone to carry valid documentation to prove they are in the country legally and would impose harsh prison sentences for individuals convicted of a crime and are here illegally, regardless of the crime. This proposed law would now require police to check immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion someone is undocumented in the course of a routine stop. Like Arizona’s SB 1070 law it is not clear what the standard for determining “reasonable suspicion” would be. The law would also require employers to check immigration status of all their employees.
A Florida poll showed that 2 out of 3 Floridians support some type of strict state immigration law. However, there is a very large Hispanic population in Florida close to 4 million people that might not be too happy with the proposed law. In Arizona, where portions of SB 1070 were struck down by the federal court, the Hispanic population if half the size of Florida’s with 2 million Hispanics.
McCollum made a name for himself with his numerous attempts at a U.S. senate seat and when as Attorney General he filed suit to exclude Florida from enacting the national health care reform.