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Bring Arizona's immigration law to Florida

"Rick Scott backs Arizona's (immigration) law. He'll bring it to Florida."

Sources: Rick Scott campaign ad, May 23, 2010: Arizona Immigration Law

Subjects: Immigration

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The 2011 legislative session ended early in the morning May 7, 2011, without passage of the Arizona-style immigration reforms Florida Gov. Rick Scott had promised during his Republican primary for governor.

The heart of the Arizona law requires local law enforcement officials, once they stop a person, to verify the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect of being in the country illegally. Bills filed originally in the Florida House and Senate had some Arizona-type provision, but the Arizona component never made it to a floor vote.

"Immigration reform should have happened, but there are a lot of other things that did happen," Scott said May 6 during a radio appearance on Freedom 94.5, a Fox-affiliated Panhandle radio station.

Without a bill, host Andi Newcombe asked if Florida would become a "job magnet for illegal aliens."

"What can be done now to save Florida from being the sanctuary state from a job magnet for illegal aliens now that Georgia and it looks like Alabama are demonstrating the courage to pass the E-Verify to get their legal state residents back to work?" asked Newcombe, who says she wants to be the "next Rush Limbaugh."

"We've got the next session," Scott answered. "We've got to get ready for the next session and let everybody we elect know that it's important to us."

Yet Scott did little to push an Arizona-style law through the Florida Legislature, and all but abandoned calls for the law after he won his GOP primary (During the primary he ran an ad telling legislators to pass the law in a special session). While there is always next year, for now we rate this Promise Broken.


SB 2040, accessed May 6, 2011

HB 7089, accessed May 6, 2011

St. Petersburg Times, "After urgently calling for immigration bill, Gov. Scott now in wait-and-see mode," May 4, 2011

St. Petersburg Times, "Will Florida become a 'job magnet' for illegal immigrants?" May 6, 2011

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Immigration hearings heat up in advance of legislative session

Updated: Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

By Aaron Sharockman

In his bruising primary with Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum, Rick Scott often tried to outflank McCollum by claiming to be a more pure conservative.

No issue better illustrates this than immigration, where Scott repeatedly whacked McCollum for moderate or changing positions.

In May, Scott began airing an ad that said McCollum opposed bringing a controversial Arizona immigration law to Florida that would allow police officers to check the immigration status of people they stopped to question.

The ad used McCollum's own words -- "We don't need that law in Florida. That's not what's gonna happen here" -- while saying Scott would get tough on illegal immigration.

"Rick Scott backs Arizona's law; he'll bring it to Florida and let our police check if the people they arrest are here legally. That's common sense."

Scott repeatedly promised during the primary to bring an Arizona-style law to Florida if elected.

This Scott-O-Meter update will measure Scott's progress.

First, some background.

The Arizona law requires local law enforcement officials, once they stop a person, to verify the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect of being in the country illegally.

The bill originally was signed into law on April 23, 2010, by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. An amended version of the law -- one to lessen the prospects that racial profiling could occur -- passed and was signed into law on April 30. The new version of the law says: "A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution."

PolitiFact Florida has written extensively about the immigration bill. For instance, we ruled that McCollum committed a Full Flop for waffling positions on bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida. (In the end, he ultimately worked with a state legislator to draft a proposed law for Florida.) Interestingly, we also ruled True a claim by McCollum that Florida officers already have the ability to check the immigration status of those who are arrested.

Scott's talk about the immigration law died down during his general election campaign against Democrat Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

But a bill meant to crack down on illegal immigration has been filed in the Senate and one will be filed in the House.

On Jan. 10, 2011, the Senate held the first of three fact-finding public hearings to help craft a final bill. The bill's sponsor, Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, said he expected a difficult road. Bennett said he copied much of his bill from the Arizona version, though it's unclear what a final immigration bill might look like.

"There probably will not be an Arizona immigration-style bill that passes the Florida Senate," Bennett told Marc Caputo of the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau.

Bennett said he is concerned with the part of the bill that's most identified with Arizona's law: the requirement that local police with "reasonable suspicion" attempt to determine a person's immigration status during a routine traffic stop or arrest. Bennett said the measure could lead to racial or ethnic profiling.

"I might not even vote for it myself," Bennett said.

In the House, Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, said he's pushing ahead and expects a bill to pass there. But unless it passes in the Senate, it won't become law -- whether Scott wants it to or not.

For his part, Scott hasn't yet entered the discussions. When asked about Bennett's bill last week, he said: "We're looking at that, but I haven't made a decision."

All of this could spell trouble for the proposed law as the legislative session begins in March. But it's too early to draw conclusions. Now that the Legislature has started formal discussions of bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida, we're able to move this promise to In the Works.


St. Petersburg Times, Florida lawmakers size up Arizona-style immigration bill, Jan. 11, 2011

Miami Herald, Bill McCollum unveils controversial immigration reform plan, Aug, 12, 2010

Florida Senate, SB 136, accessed Jan. 11, 2011

PolitiFact, Bill McCollum sends mixed signals on Arizona's immigration law, May 27, 2010

PolitiFact, Bill McCollum says Florida police can check the immigration status of people they arrest, Aug. 9, 2010