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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Does Rick Scott understand the Arizona immigration law?



Arizona's polarizing immigration law has become a divisive issue in the Republican gubernatorial primary, with Rick Scott promising to bring the hard-line legislation to Florida if elected.

Scott, a political newcomer from Naples who once oversaw the Columbia/HCA hospital chain, released a television ad last month that heralded his hard-line stance on illegal immigration and scolded his rival, Attorney General Bill McCollum, for his opposition to bringing a similar law to Florida.

Critics of the law -- which was signed in its final version by Arizona's Republican governor, Jan Brewer, on April 30, 2010 -- bristled over Scott's portrayal of what he called a "common-sense" law enforcement approach. The law makes being an illegal immigrant a state crime and requires law enforcement officials to investigate the immigration status of suspicious persons or risk being sued.

In a recent television interview with a South Florida CBS affiliate, Scott defended his position that the legislation doesn't allow law enforcement officers to stop immigrants based on skin color.

"No one believes in racial profiling. I clearly don't believe in racial profiling," Scott said.

"But the Arizona law permits it," interjected CBS4 reporter Gary Nelson

"Absolutely not," Scott countered. "It says you cannot do that. If you read the Arizona law, what it says is if you are stopped for violating the law and they have a suspicion that you're illegal, they can ask you if you're legal. That's what it says."

Did Scott get it right?  To read PolitiFact Florida's ruling, click here.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:43am]


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