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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

35 attorneys general back immigration reform, but not Pam Bondi

A coalition of attorneys general from 35 U.S. states and territories have banded together to support comprehensive immigration reform. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is not among them, saying she has not decided whether she supports an overhaul of federal immigration policy such as the one backed by  U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

"I haven't even weighed in on it yet. We've been so busy working on these (other) issues," Bondi said today after appearing with Gov. Rick Scott, who signed a bill allocating mortgage settlement dollars.

The chief legal officers from thirty-one states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories penned a letter in  April to congressional leaders supporting immigration reform. They called on legislation that secures U.S. borders while protecting businesses, workers and consumers by improving the visa system to identify legal workers.

Rubio's immigration plan aims to strengthen the borders while modernizing the immigration system to rewarding people who bring skills needed in the workforce. He has proposed identifying and registering people in the country illegally and requiring them to pay fines and meet standards in order to remain.

Bondi said today that she has not studied Rubio's proposal and is therefore not ready to chose a side. "I'd be glad to get back with you at a later date," she said.

Bondi, a hard-line conservative, has backed Arizona's controversial immigration law that critics say is heavy-handed and could lead to racial profiling. It required law enforcement to determine the immigration status of people detained or arrested and created new penalties for violating existing laws, such as illegal immigrants seeking work.

Supporting the Arizona law was part of Bondi's platform during her 2010 campaign and in 2012 she joined 15 other states in signing a "friend of the court" brief as Arizona prepared to defend its law before the U.S. Surpeme Court. The high court struck down much of the law but allowed the law enforcement provisions to remain.

At the time, Bondi said it was an issue of "states' rights," but said that the Arizona law wasn't necessarily needed in Florida. "I'm not saying it's right or wrong for Florida," she said then.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 3:30pm]

    

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