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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

On immigration, JD Alexander has firsthand concerns



Sen. JD Alexander, the Senate budget chief now handling a controversial immigration crackdown proposal, told reporters Friday that he uses the federal government's e-Verify system.

A citrus grower, Alexander said he turns prospective employees away if they don't clear the system. But he did not give e-Verify a ringing endorsement. "It takes a while to really know the answer," he said. "It has the potential of being wrong."

"It's a fair amount of cost," he added -- about $20 per person that doesn't match. "It's fairly expensive."

Alexander, R-Lake Wales, also said he's short about 100 people to pick a blueberry crop. "For all the unemployment, there just are not folks who want to come out and pick blueberries," he said, for about $9 an hour.

The budget chief's concerns echoed those of the state's powerful agricultural industry, which has resoundedly opposed SB 2040. So have big business, Disney, some local and law enforcement officials and immigration advocates.

Alexander said he has still not figured out what to do with the bill, which Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, yanked from Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami.

"In a perfect world we would control our borders," Alexander said. But many undocumented immigrants, he added, have been in the country for decades. "It seems challenging to suddenly ask them not to be able to be here...I'm personally troubled by the broad net that could be cast."

[Last modified: Friday, April 29, 2011 5:20pm]


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