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.

β€œThe 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). β€œThey 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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