MIAMI -- Hundreds of immigrant activists and supporters are organizing protests this week across Florida to protest two tough immigration bills being debated in the Legislature.
A House bill allows local police to check a person’s immigration status if they suspect the person is in the country illegally and requires they check the status of anyone under investigation -- though not necessarily arrested -- for a crime. Courts have blocked similar provisions in Arizona’s new immigration law.
The bill also makes being in the country illegally a criminal misdemeanor. Under federal law, it is a less serious civil infraction.
The House bill also mandates employers use a federal database called E-Verify to check whether new employees are eligible to work in the United States.
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The final Senate version is more limited in scope and it allows employers to use driver licenses to check work eligibility. Still, immigrants and business still oppose it.
At a rally at dusk Monday in Miami’s Little Havana, Democrats called out State House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera and State Senator Anitere Flores, both Republicans, for not taking a stronger stand against the bills.
Also Monday, a dozen buses from Clearwater went to Tallahassee for a march by immigrant children, and today growers and fieldworkers plan to highlight the bills’ effects on agriculture. Dream Act-eligible students will make their case Wednesday.