Jeb Bush bucks Ariz.-style immigration law

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 8, 2010 

MANATEE -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has expressed opposition to Arizona’s controversial immigration law, saying his children might look suspicious to police, according to news reports.

A similar bill has been proposed here by Florida Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, but Bennett says his version is different than its Arizona counterpart.

“My bill is not a racial profiling bill. I do not like the Arizona bill, and don’t think we should use racial profiling -- that we’re in agreement on,” Bennett said Tuesday when told of reports outlining the former governor’s comments last weekend before a National League of Cities convention in Denver.

Bennett said he had not been contacted by Bush, the brother and son of former Republican presidents. Jeb Bush’s wife, Columba, was born in Mexico and is a naturalized U.S. citizen. His children are half-Latino.

The former Florida governor quipped that it was obvious he was not running for office, noting that his views differed from most of his Republican colleagues, The Denver Post reported last weekend.

While he is sympathetic to the plight of Arizona officials forced to deal with all the problems linked to a porous frontier, he believes there are solutions other than a law criminalizing illegals, The Post reported.

“It’s the wrong approach,” Bush was quoted as saying. “The net result is not much has been done.”

Bush said if the United States deported 12 million illegal residents from across the country, it would cost billions and not be very effective, according to The Post.

He recommended tightening the border and improving programs to more smoothly integrate immigrants into American society, it said.

Colorado lawmakers are considering proposing Arizona-type immigration laws that include granting police the authority to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.

That portion of Arizona’s law has been blocked by a judge, but Arizona is appealing.

Bennett said his bill, Senate Bill 136, is meant to halt crime, not harass people.

“In Arizona, they could stop you because of the color of your skin or hair,” Bennett said Tuesday. “(What) I’m looking for, you’ve got to be stopped on some other crime. I’m interested in getting rid of the true crime element.

“My bill is a long way from the Arizona bill.”

Bennett’s bill would prohibit the state or its political subdivisions from limiting or restricting the enforcement of immigration laws, according to a summary on the Senate website, www.flsenate.gov.

It requires a law enforcement officer to request citizenship information under certain circumstances and authorizes a law enforcement agency to transport an alien to a federal facility, according to the summary.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.

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