Palm Bay becomes latest Florida City to legislate against illegal immigrants by Mitch E. Perry

08/05/06

Palm Bay moves to ban hiring of illicit immigrants In Palm Bay, a coastal town in East Central Florida, an ordinance that would punish employers of illegal immigrants was approved on first reading last night .

The City Council voted 4-1 in favor of Palm Bay's crackdown on the employers.. The proposal has yet to return for a final reading and vote later this month.

The ordinance would make it unlawful for "any business entity" to hire illegal immigrants. It would give code-enforcement officers the power to investigate cases and apply monetary penalties.

The measure was introduced by Palm Bay Council member Andy Anderson(roll tape#1 o.q.�fair to everybody�)

The penalties would be $500 per violation. After a 3rd violation, the business would be barred from performing any business within city limits, and would be barred from bidding on city contracts for 2 years.

Code Enforcement officers would be the officials responsible for cracking down on offending businesses. Again, Councilmember Andy Anderson (roll tape#2 o.q.�civil rights�)

The only dissenting vote came from Palm Bay Mayor John Mazziotti, who doesn’t believe the law as written will be enforceable. But he supports the sentiment behind it, even thought he admits it’s more of a cry to the Federal Government to do something about the immigration situation (roll tape#3 o.q.� to do the jobs�)

Needless to say, most Latinos in Brevard County are not in support of such a measure. At the public hearing Thursday night, several complained of feeling singled out.

Mary Gundrum is an attorney for the Miami-based Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center. She says her group is seriously considering suing Palm Bay (roll tape#4 o.q.�in this country�)

The Ordinance comes as more local communities across the country are getting directly involved in the debate about what to do with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country as Congress fails to contend with the issue.

Last week, Avon Park narrowly defeated a proposal more punitive than Palm Bay’s .

That measure would have gone after not only business owners but those who rent to illegal immigrants. And it would have made English the official language of the City. Back to Palm Bay- and the need for such a law. .Mayor John Mazziotti admits that he doesn’t believe his city really has a problem with illegal immigrants (roll tape#4 o.q.�there is some out there�)

John Garcia is with The Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, a New York City advocacy group that often sues against what it considers discriminatory laws. He attended the City Council vote on Thursday night. (roll tape#5 o.q.�both for and against�)

And Garcia – whose group is active in trying to stop a similar ordinance in Hazelton, Pensylvania, says overall there are about 15 different communities across the country trying to implement laws against illegal immigrants (roll tape#6 o.q.�and anecdote�)

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The creator of the ordinance, City Councilman Andy Anderson, insists that he’s not trying to discriminate against Latinos (roll tape#5 o.q.�local guys trying to do the right thing�)

The issue will come back up for a vote on August 17th.

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