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.
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.