Category Archives: Florida State-specific

Revised FL-DMV Procedures for “Deferred Action” Applicants.

If DHS has granted deferred action and a work permit has been applied for or approved, these individuals are eligible for issuance. Other documents required would be a valid government-issued document (unless the customer has been issued with the Department since January 1, 2010), two (2) proofs of residential address and proof of social security number (if one has been issued), along with the deferred action letter from DHS.

Furthermore, if the customer is a youth and is seeking a first-time issuance, F.S. 322.095 requires completion of the traffic law substance abuse (TLSA) course or the satisfactorily completed Department of Education driver’s education course.

FL Minimum Wage on the Rise…rakin’ in the dough!

Effective June 1, 2011, Florida’s revised minimum wage will be $7.31 per hour for all hours worked in Florida.

Employers must pay their employees a wage not less than the amount of the hourly state minimum wage for all hours worked in Florida. The definitions of “employer”, “employee”, and “wage” for state purposes are the same as those established under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

For “tipped employees” meeting eligibility requirements for the tip credit under FLSA, employers must pay a direct hourly wage of $4.29 as of June 1, 2011.

More information and a copy of the Florida Minimum Wage poster may be downloaded from the Agency for Workforce Innovation’s website at www.floridajobs.org/workforce/posters.html .

Florida Senate quietly passes immigration bill

by Dara Kam | May 4th, 2011,  The Palm Beach Post
With no debate, the Florida Senate quickly and quietly approved an immigration measure, keeping alive for now the issue the GOP-dominated legislature is unlikely to ultimately agree on.
The Senate measure, finalized yesterday after an emotional floor debate, would require work force boards to use E-Verify to check the immigration status of potential workers before referring them to employers and prohibit undocumented residents from receiving state or federal benefits. It would also allow nonviolent criminals to serve shorter sentences if they agree to be deported. And it would require law enforcement officers to make a “reasonable effort” to ascertain immigration status after someone has been arrested and detained.
The Senate approved the bill (SB 2040) by a 23-16 vote as dozens of immigrants and their children sat in the public gallery overlooking the chamber. The immigrants, a continuous presence in the Capitol who have stepped up pressure on lawmakers to abandon the issue over the past two weeks, left singing a song about freedom.
Despite the Senate’s action today, chances of the two chambers reaching agreement on the thorny issue remain close to nil.
House GOP leaders said they do not believe they have the votes to take up the Senate’s much weaker version of their proposal (HB 7089) that would require businesses to use E-Verify and give sheriffs, deputies and police officers the authority to ask for immigration documentation when they are pursuing a criminal investigation.

Attention FL Business Owners: Have You Filed ?

Are you an owner, shareholder or member of a Florida-registered business?  If it is registered as a Corporation or Limited Liability Company, you are required by law to file an “Annual Report” between Jan 1 and May 1.

Visit their website for instructions and updates:  http://www.sunbiz.org/

Failure to file your required Annual Report may lead to late fees and/or administrative dissolution (closure) of your company, for which you would then need to seek and file for reinstatement.   Should you need assistance with filing for your company entity, please contact me.

If you DON’T want FL to become the next AZ, read on…

I am forwarding this post from a fellow AILA member who has asked that this be disseminated to those who hold an active interest, in honest and lawful immigration into the United States.

As many of you know, issues relating to Immigration is federal law.  Yet, Florida’s legislature is trying to pass a state law, similar to the one Arizona passed, to address its own issues relating to Immigration.  And despite the law in Arizona still being litigated at taxpayers expense, Florida’s legislature continues its efforts, which if passed, will inevitably cost Florida taxpayers as well.

There are two versions of the bill currently being discussed, with the House version being the harsher of the two.  The Florida House of Representatives have a bill (HB7089 – called Enforcement of Immigration Laws), which would allow law enforcement officers to inquire into a person’s immigration status during a lawful stop and allows for him/her to make an unwarranted arrest if the person is unable to provide evidence of lawful status.  It further allows for the court to convict an undocumented person with a criminal offense, despite the federal law declaring one’s unlawful status as a civil offense.  The bill would also require employers to use a government database called E-verify to determine one’s right to work.  The Florida Senate’s bill (SR2040 – called Unauthorized Immigrants) doesn’t go as far in that it requires the police to inquire into the immigrant status of an inmate and allows certain employers to be exempt from having to use E-verify.

Attached are three documents.  The first attachment is a copy of the House bill, the second is the Senate bill, and the third is a comparison of the House bill to the current version of the Arizona law and how the courts have thus far stated each of its sections invalid.

Whether you are a U.S. born citizen, a permanent resident, a non-immigrant visa/status holder, or unlawful, if these bills become law, you must consider the following:
·         With the complexities of Immigration law, law enforcement officers are likely to make errors in determining one’s lawful status
·         Discrimination and profiling are likely to occur when an officer determines whether to question one about his/her status
·         If you in lawful status (whether a citizen, resident, or visa holder), will you now carry around proof of your lawful status?
·         Economic devastation will occur to tourism and agricultural industries, two industries our state relies on.
·         Revenue loss to Florida schools with foreign students refusing to attend colleges in Florida
·         Reduce tax revenue for the state
·         Endanger victims of crime for fear of reporting crime
·         Damage community trust with law enforcement
·         Potential risk of increased hate crimes
·         Overcrowd jails or result in counties to have to build more detention centers

I ask that you please take a few minutes to email or call the Florida Senate President, the Florida House Majority Leader, and your own state Congressman.    Please let your state legislature know that you oppose SR2040 and more importantly HB7089.  In order to contact your local representative(s), it is suggested by AILA that you use the following format and contact information:

You can simply say: “Hello, my name is ______________ and I am concerned about the negative effects of Senate Bill 2040 and House Bill 7089 on my family, friends, my community, and the state’s economy if either of these bills become law.  Vote no to these bills.”

Call or email your state legislatures now:
1)     Senate President Mike Haridopolos
a.     mike@senatormike.com
b.    850-487-5056

2)     House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera
a.     Carlos.lopez-cantera@myfloridahouse.gov
b.    850-487-5056

3)     You state Senator and House Representative
a.     Go to http://www.myfloridahouse.gov and look at the top left part of your screen for “find your representative.”  This will provide you information on your state and federal legislatures.
b.    850-488-1157

Florida House bill HB7089 , Florida Senate bill SR2040Florida and Arizona laws compared

Florida could be poised to become Arizona 2.0

According to REUTERS, Florida has joined Arizona on the front lines of battling illegal immigration with a new bill released this week that seeks to crack down on the estimated 800,000 undocumented workers in the state. The bill, filed by state Sen. Michael Bennett, allows law enforcement officers to check the residency status of anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant and would punish some legal immigrants who aren’t carrying proper documentation.

[ see also: http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201012010108/NEWS01/12010333 ]

Florida has been flirting with releasing an immigration bill since the summer when outgoing state Attorney General Bill McCollum wrote a similar proposal with state Rep. William Snyder. But Snyder has yet to file that bill.  Snyder told FoxNews.com that he’s in no rush to file his bill and expects to unveil it next month. He said he is consulting with state Attorney General-elect Pam Bondi and minority communities who are concerned about the bill promoting racial profiling.

“Filing a bill is just pushing a button,” he said. “I could do that in instant. Getting people behind the bill is what legislation is all about.”

Bennett could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for Florida Gov.-elect Rick Scott, who campaigned on cracking down on illegal immigrants in the state, did not return a message seeking comment.  Bondi said she is still reviewing the details of Bennett’s bill but expressed support for such a law.

“I am committed to working with the legislature in support of an immigration law for Florida that protects the public, guards against racial profiling and upholds the rule of law,” she said in a written statement to FoxNews.com. “I will stand up to any effort by the federal government to stop Florida from implementing such a law.”

Like Snyder’s bill, Bennett’s measure would allow law enforcement officers to check immigration documents during a lawful detention if they suspect the detainee is not in the country legally. But the bill bans the use of race or ethnicity as a reason to check immigration papers. Immigrants who are caught not carrying their documents face a fine of up to $100 and up to 20 days in jail.

Arizona’s immigration law ignited a firestorm of criticism when it was passed earlier this year, including legal challenges from the Obama administration and civil rights groups. A U.S. District Courtjudge blocked key provisions in the summer as the battle between Arizona and the federal government continues, possibly heading to the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, though, several states are working to pass similar bills. As of last month, six other states have filled Arizona-style immigration bills, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Snyder said he’s confident that his bill will withstand legal challenges because it is simply enforcing existing federal laws.
“People pushing back think it would create a whole new genre of law,” he said. “We’re not.”  Snyder added that he supports legal immigration.  “I think there are people who are against illegal immigration and there’s a whole separate group for open borders,” he said. “Those people are using my bill as a platform to rail against any immigration law.”

[ see also: http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201012010108/NEWS01/12010333 ]

Will Florida become the next Arizona???

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.

ICE and FDLE partner up to Prioritize removal of Criminal Aliens

Today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and
 the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), announced that ICE is
using a new biometric information sharing capability in every Florida 
county to help federal immigration officials identify aliens, both 
lawfully and unlawfully present in the United States, who are booked
 into local law enforcement’s custody for a crime. This capability is
 part of “Secure Communities” – ICE’s comprehensive strategy to improve and
modernize the identification and removal of criminal aliens from the 
United States. [download ICE's pamphlet]

Formerly, during the booking process, arrestees’ fingerprints were 
checked for criminal history information only against the Department of
 Justice’s (DOJ) Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System 
(IAFIS), a biometric database maintained by the FBI.

With the implementation of “Secure Communities”, this fingerprint
information is now automatically and simultaneously checked against both 
the FBI criminal history records and the biometrics-based immigration 
records in the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT), which 
is maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

If any fingerprints match those of someone in the DHS biometric system, 
the new automated process notifies ICE. ICE evaluates each case to 
determine the individual’s immigration status and takes appropriate
 enforcement action. This includes aliens who are in lawful status and
those who are present without lawful authority. Once identified through 
fingerprint matching, ICE will respond with a priority placed on aliens
 convicted of the most serious offenses first – such as those with 
convictions for major drug offenses, murder, rape and kidnapping.

“This program maximizes the use of biometric technology to exchange 
critical public safety information,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald 
Bailey. “FDLE is pleased to work with ICE and local law enforcement to
 help protect Florida citizens.”

“The Secure Communities strategy provides an effective tool to help ICE
 identify aliens charged with crimes in law enforcement custody with 
little or no cost to our law enforcement partners,” said ICE Assistant
Secretary John Morton. “Applying this biometric information sharing tool
in Florida improves public safety by enabling ICE to prevent the release 
of criminal aliens back into our communities when they complete their
 sentences.”

FL Business Owners: No More Breaks from SUNBIZ.

In recent weeks, the Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations, who is the governing body of companies registered in Florida, has had its usual annual rush in late Spring, as Annual Report Filings were due by May 1.

Until recently, “Sunbiz” as the agency frequently is referred to (in reference to its website URL), had had the administrative discretion to waive late fees.   This is has, unfortunately for many businesses, changed. A notice was posted by the agency, explaining the new hard line stance on no longer waiving late fees:

“EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY! The Division of Corporations no longer has authority to waive the $400 late fee for annual reports filed after May 1st. The provision for waiver in s. 607.193(2)(b),F.S. was repealed during the 2010 Legislative Session. All business entities except non-profit corporations must pay the late fee if the annual report is filed after May 1st.”

Florida Congressman Lobbying for Permanent Resident Status for E-2 Investors

Following the footsteps of Congresswoman Heather Wilson (New Mexico), who introduced similar legislation in 2007, Florida Congressman Adam Putnam earlier this year introduced a new bill in the House of Representatives which would allow issuance of green cards for up to 3000 E-2 visa holders per year.

This newest legislative effort, the “E-2 Nonimmigrant Investor Adjustment Act of 2009,” carves out 3,000 green cards from the annual allotment of 10,000 green cards available to the EB-5 category.

Essentially, to qualify, the E-2 investor must be present in the U.S. for at least five years, must have invested at least $200,000, and must create full time employment for at least two individuals.

To express your support, please contact Congressman Putnam (his Washington office number is 202-225-1252). A private, grassroots effort behind the drive to enable E-2 visa holders to directly seek permanent residence, is located online, at www.e2reform.org, which also contains an online petition in favor of this legislative effort.