The Florida Senate’s path on immigration legislation was becoming clearer this week, before President Mike Haridopolos signaled his intention to derail an amendment that would relieve businesses from requirements that they use the E-Verify system.

Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradentdon, has withdrawn his Arizona-style enforcement bill (which he said was intended mostly as a conversation-starter) from consideration, leaving the bill proposed by the Judiciary Committee, led Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, as the immigration-enforcement measure of choice in the upper chamber.

That bill is centered on 287(g) and other measures that would make local law enforcement responsible for immigration. On Monday, business groups cheered a provision inserted by Flores that struck some of the tougher E-Verify provisions, which they opposed. See this briefing from Associated Industries of Florida:

The E-Verify provisions in the strike-everything have been softened dramatically from the bill as originally filed and from the House’s version of the bill, which would have mandated all employers to use the E-Verify employee verification system by July 1, 2013. The strike-everything amendment which was introduced today would allow employers to use E-Verify voluntarily or they are also allowed to use the following documents which are traditionally used in the I-9 citizenship verification process:

  • An unexpired United States passport or United States 57 passport card;
  • An unexpired driver’s license that is issued by a state or outlying possession of the United States and that contains a photograph of the employee;
  • An unexpired foreign passport that contains a United States visa evidencing applicable work authorization and a corresponding unexpired Form I-94; or
  • A secure national identification card or similar document issued pursuant to federal law.

The bill also contains a number of law enforcement provisions dealing with the handling of illegal immigrants who are detained in Florida and it establishes a process by which local governments can develop formal law enforcement relationships with the Department of Homeland Security.

No formal vote was taken on the strike-everything amendment today, but we do expect SB 7066 (in its new form) to come back before the committee for a formal vote.

Today, Haridopolos (who last week announced to a cheering tea party crowd that E-Verify would be part of the Senate’s bill) told reporters he felt the “consensus” of the Senate is tilted against Flores, and that her proposal would likely be axed. That would pit his position against not just immigrant advocates, but powerful business lobbyists. We’ll see how this develops.

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