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Some Florida lawmakers have reservations about passing a word-for-word copy of Arizona’s controversial immigration law as the start of the March legislative session looms.

“The good news is that there seems to be a lot opposition especially in the business community,” said Susana Barciela, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center policy director.

Barciela said FIAC and other immigrant advocates were disappointed in the bills that were initially being brought up. Even so, she said the most extreme examples seemed to have arisen from the heated 2010 election.

“Immigrants were being demonized,” said Barciela. “And sure enough that’s when then Attorney General Bill McCollum jumped in with Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, and created a draft bill that had all of these objectionable provisions.”

Snyder’s original draft bill would require law enforcement officers to stop anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant, unless they could provide a valid Florida driver’s license, a valid Florida identification card or a valid tribal enrollment card.

However, Snyder’s draft bill would also have exempted a person who could show proof of Canadian citizenship or a passport from a visa waiver program.

As of Jan. 28 Snyder had yet to submit the bill for the 2011 legislative session, but he has told several media outlets that he was working on a revised proposal.

Meanwhile, Sen. Michael S. Bennett, R-Bradenton, and Rep. Trudi K. Williams, R-Fort Myers, have each submitted an immigration bill that cracks down on illegal immigrants, but does not exclude Canadians or visa waiver holders.

In addition, since the start of 2011 several key Republicans have asked Florida legislators to reconsider bringing an Arizona-like law to Florida, including former Gov. Jeb Bush, former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez and former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

Barciela said one reason people are starting to make their voices heard is that a lot of immigrants — both documented and undocumented — contribute greatly to this state’s industries: hospitality, agriculture and construction.

“There is recognition by folks that we don’t want what is happening in Arizona to happen here,” she said, citing the economic losses Arizona has dealt with since the Grand Canyon State passed its anti-immigrant law last year. “And that’s all even before we even get to the human rights issues.”

It’s an opinion shared by Brent A. Wilkes, League of United Latin American Citizens national executive director.

“If their intention was to harass Latinos, I guess it’s a pretty good strategy,” said Wilkes last week. “But if their intention was to address the issue, it ends up not achieving the results because it’s not effective.”

Wilkes said many of the states’ proposals — such as the one in Florida — do not take into consideration the cost to law enforcement departments, jails, courts, the foster care systems or the states economies.

“It’s expensive to do these things. It’s ineffective and, at the end of the day, it seems like it’s giving the federal government the ability to avoid taking a stand for itself,” he said.

“Clearly it’s a federal responsibility and we are supportive of the government taking its responsibilities seriously.”

Barciela said although cooler heads are prevailing in Florida, she’ll reserve judgment for now.

“I’m encouraged that there are a lot of voices of sanity, but I don’t think I will rest until the session is over and no anti-immigrant bill is passed,” she said.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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