Florida Attorney General Proposes Arizona-Style Immigration Law; Immigration May Play Key Role In Upcoming Elections

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — As the federal government and the state of Arizona continue to clash over a controversial immigration law, Florida legislators have begun discussing an even stricter measure.

Florida attorney general and candidate for governor Bill McCollum proposed legislation on Wednesday that would require police to check the immigration status of the people they stop while enforcing other laws, The BBC reports.

“I support the Arizona immigration law,” McCollum said at a press conference, according to The Palm Beach Post. “But this is our law, not their law. Arizona is going to want our law.”

Florida law currently permits checking the immigration status of those stopped by the police, but does not require it.

The proposal comes less than two weeks after Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) told Fox News he favored reconsidering the 14th amendment, which guarantees citizenship to those born within the country, as a way to discourage illegal immigration.

McCollum’s proposal promises to cause controversy in Florida as it heads into November elections. Florida’s population was 21 percent Hispanic in 2008, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Florida’s center-right governor, Charlie Crist, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday that he opposed McCollum’s approach, likening it to the Arizona law.

“I don’t like the Arizona law, I don’t think it’s the way to go,” Crist said, according to The Orlando Sentinel. “And I think the key word that came out during your introduction was people that are suspected of being illegal immigrants. Well, how do you make that determination? By what they look like? I mean, that’s not part of the America that I believe in.”

Crist is running for a senate seat against Cuban-American conservative and tea party favorite Marco Rubio, who has shown mixed signals toward adopting an Arizona-style approach to the problem of illegal immigration.

Rubio originally opposed the law, saying in late April that “the law has potential unintended consequences, and it’s one of the reasons why I think immigration needs to be a federal issue, not a state one.” But Rubio changed his position in early May, following changes to the law to address concerns about racial profiling.

Other Top News: Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo will undergo six chemotherapy sessions beginning Thursday to treat a recently diagnosed, non-Hodgkins lymphoma of low malignancy, The Associated Press reports.

Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch

  • Alison Bowen discusses the Arizona immigration law’s ripple effects in the latest post to her blog Beyond Borders.

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