Local senator proposes immigration legislation

12/17/07 Mitch E. Perry
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New Port Richey Republican Sen. Mike Fasano, saying he is responding to the needs of his constituents, will offer two bills dealing with illegal immigration.

Fasano has drawn up two bills that he’s hoping to get passed when the legislature re-convenes next March.

One measure is called the Aliens/Unauthorized Employment Bill; it would strip businesses designated as agricultural, and would also fine them up to $25,000 for having undocumented workers on their payroll.

That’s not likely to please members of Florida’s agriculture community, who say they rely on seasonal workers to help harvest the fruits and vegetables that make up their business. Fasano says he’s sympathetic, up to a point.

What Fasano and some other Florida lawmakers intend to do is similar to what state legislatures have been doing in a lot of in the past twp years – create their own anti-immigration laws now that comprehensive federal immigration reform is off the table.

The National Conference of State Lawmakers predicts that only budget issues will take precedence over immigration issues in 2008.

A Pew Hispanic Center poll released earlier this month found 57 percent of Latino voters identifying with Democrats, while only 23 percent sided with Republicans. A Wall Street Journal editorial on Monday said the 34 point gap has increased by 21 points in less than 18 months.

But Fasano says illegal immigration is a serious matter that transcends polls.

Another bill Fasano intends to sponsor is the Security and Immigration Compliance Act. It would require law enforcement officers to determine the legal status of people arrested. If they are undocumented, officers would have to notify Homeland Security. It would also require Florida’s domestic security apparatus to work with Homeland Security on enforcing immigration laws jointly.

WMNF did hear back from one national Latino group. We will hear from them tomorrow on this story.

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