TALLAHASSEE — Maybe it was the work day Gov. Rick Scott spent last month in a citrus grove that changed his mind, but Scott left no doubt Wednesday that he has backed off a campaign promise to require private employers in Florida to use the federal E-Verify system to determine their employees' immigration status.
He said he now supports only a national E-Verify program.
It's a nuanced but significant shift from the promise Scott made in campaigning, when he pledged "to require all Florida employers to use the free E-Verify system to ensure that their workers are legal."
The database compares employment information in the federal Homeland Security and Social Security system to determine the legal status of employees. However, the database is considered incomplete and employers complain it takes too long to determine verification.
In 2011, Scott signed an executive order requiring new hires in state agencies, and those hired by companies that contract with the state, first be cleared through the database. He then tried and failed to get the Legislature to impose an E-Verify program on Florida businesses.
Now it looks like the governor got religion.
"With regard to E-Verify, as you know, we did it for people who do business with state government," Scott said. "But we've got to have a national E-Verify program because I don't want to put Florida businesses at a competitive disadvantage."