The House of Representatives of the Florida Legislature just recently released its draft of the “Florida Immigration Enforcement Act”, in which the opening paragraph reads:
“The Legislature finds that there is a compelling interest in the cooperative enforcement of federal immigration laws throughout all of Florida. The Legislature declares that the intent of this act is to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Florida. The provisions of this act are intended to work together to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.”
The major provisions of this draft legislation can be summarized as follows:
(1) law enforcement shall have the authority to ascertain the immigration status of any person detained or arrested, prior to their release from custody. An alien found to be present in the United States illegally, shall be referred to ICE or CBP upon release from local or state law enforcement, from custody, detention, imprisonment and/or payment of fines.
(2) willful failure to provide proof of immigration status will be a misdemeanor offense, with fines of $100 and/or jail terms between 20 and 30 days, depending on number of violations (first offense, second offense, etc.)
(3) a person unlawfully present in the U.S. may not publicly solicit for work/employment within the borders of the State of Florida.
(4) Law enforcement may arrest without warrant anyone under suspicion of having been previously convicted for an offense which would render the Alien inadmissible to and/or removable from the United States.
(5) a “whistle-blower” mechanism will be put in place to initiate complaints against employer’s who are believed to have hired ineligible, undocumented workers, not otherwise authorized to seek and obtain employment in the U.S. The complaint mechanism will not preclude anonymous tips to law enforcement authorities. Upon a finding of cause, unauthorized Aliens will be reported to ICE, and criminal prosecutions will be initiated against the employer. (enforcement of this provision is not to begin before October 1, 2011)
(6) Employers in violation of Sec. (5), shall terminate any unauthorized employment, and will be placed on administrative probation for a period of no less than 3 years and file quarterly reports regarding staffing changes (terminations and hires). Failures to comply may result in revocation of professional licenses of the employer. Employers can benefit from a “Safe Harbor”-provision if using “E-Verify” to rely on a worker’s ability to legally work.
(7) All Employers in Florida will be required to use the “E-verify” system to ascertain a worker’s eligibility to work in the United States, as of October 1, 2011. Records shall be maintained as required by applicable Federal laws.
(8) Sentencing enhancements and increased penalties for certain crimes committed by Aliens unlawfully present in the United States. This will apply if charged and sentenced as an adult, not to include juvenile offenders if charged as juvenile delinquents. A second degree misdemeanor will be upgraded to a first degree misdemeanor; a first degree misdemeanor may be enhanced to a felony of the third degree. (as measured by applicable maximum penalties) Felonies can be upgraded from 3rd to 2nd, from 2nd to 1st, and from 1st to Life Felony.
(9) For purposes of release on Bail and other conditions, a new score-sheet will be implemented which will take into account the offender’s legal immigration status (or lack thereof). An offender without legal immigration status will receive additional points on the score-sheet, making a conditional release from custody less likely.
The read the full draft of the proposed legislation, download it here.