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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate vote on immigration still iffy

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos said on the floor of the chamber Monday morning that he would like to send an immigration crackdown bill, SB 2040, to the House by the afternoon.

"It is my intention to try to move that off the floor if we're able to have a vigorous debate on it," he told senators.

But expect Senate Democrats to try to slow down the effort by objecting to the chamber taking up the bill for discussion and voting on it on the same day -- instead of asking questions about it one day and voting on it the next. Early Monday, the Senate Democratic Caucus took a position against the controversial bill.

"We all come from somewhere else -- except the Native Americans," said Sen. Nan Rich, a Weston Democrat and minority leader. Immigration, she added, should be addressed by the federal government.

And if Haridopolos tries to push through several changes to make the bill tougher, several Republicans will likely also be against the measure. Miami-Dade Republicans have said their delegation plans to oppose a hardline bill. There's three Republican senators from Miami-Dade: Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Rene Garcia and Anitere Flores, all Cuban-Americans.

In addition to losing Hispanic support, the Senate -- and later the House -- will have to try to find a difficult balance on immigration, with law enforcement, big business and the agricultural industry all against the proposal. Even Sen. J.D. Alexander, the Lake Wales Republican tasked with shepherding the bill through the Senate floor, has expressed conflicting emotions on the issue.

Last Friday, Gov. Rick Scott, who made an immigration crackdown a key part of this primary campaign platform, spoke on Spanish-language radio in Miami without getting into specifics on the legislative proposals.

"Any bill that I sign will be very fair and will not have any racial profiling," he said. "We need to have the federal government secure our borders, and the federal government needs to come up with an immigration policy that makes sense. We are a nation of legal immigration, so I'm committed to make sure that whatever bill passes is fair and has no racial profiling."

[Last modified: Monday, May 2, 2011 1:08pm]

    

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