State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, has filed an immigration bill akin to the highly contentious and much maligned Arizona law that went into effect earlier this year, which sparked national controversy over its harsh mandates that aim to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants using methods many lawmakers and civil rights groups claim promote racial profiling.

Bennett is one of newly minted Senate President Mike Haridopolos’ top lieutenants, and insists the bill is simply an early draft that will undoubtedly see numerous revisions once the legislature convenes this spring.

The News Press reports:

SB-136 would require police to check the immigration status of suspects and report them to federal authorities. However, the bill says the officer “may not consider race, color, or national origin” when asking for the papers. The bill also would give citizens the right to sue local governments who refuse to comply with the legislation.

He said one of his goals is to deport an estimated 1,300 illegal aliens in the state prison system who have been convicted of drug and other non-violent, non-sexual crimes. Bennett estimates they are costing the state $20,000 a year each to incarcerate.

“I can buy them a plane ticket for $750,” he said.

Republican lawmakers in Florida have already used their newly acquired majority power to roll back eight bills outgoing Gov. Charlie Crist had vetoed last spring, and earlier this year Gov.-elect Rick Scott was clear in his support for bringing an Arizona-style immigration bill to Florida during a radio ad that derided a special session Crist had convened in the wake of BP’s Deepwater Horizon catastrophe:

Gov. Crist has called a special session of the legislature. And, of course, Florida taxpayers are on the hook to pay for it. So as long as we paying them anyway, here’s something that the legislature should do: Bring the Arizona immigration law here to Florida. Now. Pass it in the special session.

It’s not complicated, because it’s just common sense. If someone gets stopped for speeding, or arrested for robbery, the police should be able to determine if they are here legally.

My suggestion to Tallahassee?  Let’s get to work, and bring the Arizona law to Florida now.

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