State Sen. Mike Bennett’s proposed immigration enforcement law (Senate Bill 136) shares a lot of language with the Federal Immigration Enforcement Act announced earlier this year by state Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, but it lacks that bill’s most controversial provision.
The Snyder measure states that if a person provides a passport from a visa waiver program country or proof of Canadian citizenship, he or she can be presumed to be legally in the United States. The visa waiver program includes citizens from European and Asian countries.
This was excluded from S136, as was a language that declares the intent of immigration enforcement legislation to make “attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Florida.”
But both bills do state that they intend to discourage and deter “the unlawful entry and presence of aliens in this state.”
According to Numbers USA,
the principle behind Attrition Through Enforcement is that living illegally in the United States will become more difficult and less satisfying over time when the government – at ALL LEVELS – enforces all of the laws already on the books. The goal is to make it extremely difficult for unauthorized persons to live and work in the United States.
The Snyder and Bennett legislative proposals state that officials and agencies may share information with any government entity to determine the eligibility of a person for any public benefit, service, or license provided at any government level and to verify any claim of residence or domicile if it is required under state law or judicial order. And officials can also determine if an “alien is in compliance with the federal registration laws.”
Both measures state that if a person is stopped, detained, or arrested and there are reasons to believe the individual is not legally present, his or her immigration status will be determined. According to federal law, an unlawful immigrant will be arrested.
And if an individual is unlawfully present in the United States and is convicted of violating local or state law local law, enforcement officials will notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection before releasing the offender from jail.
These proposed measures authorize local law enforcement to transport an individual who has a verified unlawful immigration status to a federal facility or to turn the individual over to federal custody.
Several sections of both measures share the exact same words that would allow local law enforcement officers authorized by the federal government to verify an individual’s immigration status. That includes a series of federal provisions that state that nothing can prohibit a state official from “sending, receiving, or maintaining information relating to the immigration status of an individual.”
Current federal immigration enforcement programs Secure Communities and Section 287(g) already include very similar provisions.
Secure Community is a fingerprint-sharing program that allows local law enforcement to check a detainee’s status with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security databases. All 67 Florida counties are enrolled in Secure Communities.
287(g), meanwhile, establishes an agreement between local law enforcement agencies and ICE that gives federal immigration enforcement authority to local law enforcement officers. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and three county sheriffs’ offices participate in 287(g).
Snyder’s measure enables the attorney general to initiate civil or administrative action against any official that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws. S136 allows a legal resident to bring an action in any county court.
Under both versions, an alien must carry an identification document to verify that he or she is a legal resident of the United States. A person that fails to do so will be incarcerated and fined.
The Snyder act, much more extensive than S136, also stipulates that an undocumented alien who solicits work can also be arrested. It includes extensive provisions to penalize employers who hire an immigrant who has no work authorization. This includes hiring a person by the side of the road.
And it states that, as of Oct. 1, 2011, employers must check an employee’s immigration status in the federal E-Verify program.