Committees in the Florida House and Senate are set to take up controversial immigration bills this week. The tougher of the two, which is being carried through the House by Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, is now on Thursday’s crowded Economic Affairs Committee agenda, after languishing for weeks.
Snyder’s measure faces resistance from business and immigrant-rights groups, and could be open to the same constitutional challenge at the center of the legal battles surrounding Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 because it creates new state-level crimes for immigration.
Tania Galloni, an immigration attorney with the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, said in an interview last month that using state laws to criminalize immigrants’ presence, as Snyder’s bill proposes, could encroach on the Constitution. With some narrow exceptions, immigration has long been considered the exclusive responsibility of the federal government (which is part of the U.S. Justice Department’s argument in its case against S.B. 1070).
“This goes back to the 19th century,” she said. “This is not new.”
Snyder has acknowledged that some portions of the bill may be preempted by federal law. Two weeks ago, he said he was still working through concerns various groups have raised about the measure before moving ahead with it.
Meanwhile, the Senate’s immigration bill has been routed around the Criminal Justice Committee and is now headed straight to the budget panel, which is set to discuss the measure this week.
The binding portions of the Senate’s bill focus on requiring employers to verify the eligibility of new hires to work in the country (see a more detailed discussion of what the bill does here). A newly proposed amendment would ease those requirements, requiring employers to ask new hires for visas or other forms of identification.