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Florida Immigration Bill Allows Police to Skip Over Canadians, Europeans

Via Change.org, some interesting information about a proposed Arizona-style immigration bill in Florida: The bill includes a provision allowing Canadians and Western Europeans to be “presumed to be legally in the United States,” even though other non-citizens must carry papers. Florida’s bill, which was drafted by Rep. William Snyder (R), has support from Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for governor. Although proponents of the legislation argue it would not lead to racial profiling, the provision on Canadians and Western Europeans — most of whom are white non-Latinos — brings up new concerns for Latino groups. (The Miami New Times, which originally pointed out the provision, has a full copy of the draft bill.)

Latino and immigrant rights groups have fervently opposed the bill, which would mimic Arizona’s SB 1070 by requiring police to check legal status on anyone they “reasonable suspicions” of being in the country illegally if the police have already stopped them. The provision would allow them to assume legal status if the person had a Canadian passport or a “passport from any ‘visa waiver country’” — which are primarily located in Western Europe. “That language makes it clear that police are targeting only a specific minority,” Susana Barciela, policy director at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, told the Miami New Times.

Snyder said the language was meant to avoid deterring tourism from Canada. “What we’re doing there is trying to be sensitive to Canadians,” he said in a radio interview. “We have an enormous amount of … Canadians wintering here in Florida. … That language is comfort language.”

The bill has caused some tension between Florida politicians, particularly the three Latino Republican members of Congress from Miami who oppose the anti-immigration legislation. Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tepidly endorsed Scott for governor earlier this month despite his support for the bill.

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