Dozens of immigrants and advocates left their seats to kneel in prayer as the House Economic Affairs Commitee began final debate on an immigration-enforcement measure sponsored by Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart.

Please don’t let it pass, they asked.

Their prayers went unanswered.

The measure passed. After the vote, some of them openly wept. Others tried to comfort them.

“The true story is that they are the victims,” Snyder said during his closing argument, motioning to the unauthorized immigrants (and their children, some of whom spoke against the measure). “They are the victims of a broken system.”

The emotional scene came during what is likely the bill’s final stop before it reaches the House floor. Lawmakers made several changes, such as adding a severability clause that allows the bill to stand if some portions are struck down by the courts. That could be a likely prospect for some provisions, such as the one that creates a second-degree state misdemeanor for being present in the country illegally.

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