Bring Arizona's immigration law to Florida
"Rick Scott backs Arizona's (immigration) law. He'll bring it to Florida."
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"Rick Scott backs Arizona's (immigration) law. He'll bring it to Florida."
Rick Scott promised voters in 2010 he would bring an Arizona-style law to Florida.
Not only that, he used the law as a way to win the support of conservatives who didn't know the first-time politician very well, pounding his Republican primary opponent Bill McCollum on the issue.
Two legislative sessions behind him, Scott hasn't just failed to pass an Arizona law. He's stopped talking about the state's need for one.
He could have broken his silence when the Supreme Court ruled parts of the law unconstitutional but upheld the central requirement calling on officers to check the status of people they suspect are illegal aliens.
But he didn't. Not long after the court announced its ruling, Scott used talking points to reporters that echoed his explanation of a shift on another key campaign issue, implementing a statewide E-Verify system.
"I haven't seen that decision,” Scott said at a news conference on June 25, 2012. "I still believe the federal government ought to secure our borders. They ought to have a national immigration policy and take responsibility for this. I think the states have had to respond because the federal government hasn't. We need to have an immigration policy that Americans understand, and those who want to come to our country understand ... Our Florida businesses and American business is at a serious disadvantage because we don't have a well-defined work visa plan that makes sense."
Back in 2010, Scott hammered McCollum, then Florida's attorney general, for his evolving stance on the Arizona law, SB 1070, during the campaign.
At first McCollum called the law "far out.” Then he said he liked it with an amendment that prevented racial profiling, though he said Florida didn't need it.
In July 2010, McCollum joined seven states opposing the federal government's lawsuit against the Arizona law. Weeks before the primary, McCollum touted a draft of the law that he wanted applied in Florida, which prompted Scott's campaign to call him a flip-flopper.
Scott hasn't said much on the state's need for an Arizona law since the Legislature failed to pass a last-minute attempt during the 2011 session.
The Supreme Court struck down portions of the Arizona law that made it a state crime to be in the country without authorization and for an illegal immigrant to seek work without authorization. Siding with the Obama administration, the court agreed these parts intruded on federal authority.
"Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority.
We already rated this Promise Broken. The chances for this to be somehow resurrected are even slimmer now, especially considering Scott's comments that call for a federal solution.
It remains Promise Broken.
Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald, "Immigration law enters Florida's political clash,” July 15, 2010 (accessed via Nexis)
The News Service of Florida, Video of Gov. Rick Scott gaggle, June 25, 2012
The 2011 legislative session ended early in the morning May 7, 2011, without passage of the Arizona-style immigration reforms Florida Gov. Rick Scott had promised during his Republican primary for governor.
The heart of the Arizona law requires local law enforcement officials, once they stop a person, to verify the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect of being in the country illegally. Bills filed originally in the Florida House and Senate had some Arizona-type provision, but the Arizona component never made it to a floor vote.
"Immigration reform should have happened, but there are a lot of other things that did happen," Scott said May 6 during a radio appearance on Freedom 94.5, a Fox-affiliated Panhandle radio station.
Without a bill, host Andi Newcombe asked if Florida would become a "job magnet for illegal aliens."
"What can be done now to save Florida from being the sanctuary state from a job magnet for illegal aliens now that Georgia and it looks like Alabama are demonstrating the courage to pass the E-Verify to get their legal state residents back to work?" asked Newcombe, who says she wants to be the "next Rush Limbaugh."
"We've got the next session," Scott answered. "We've got to get ready for the next session and let everybody we elect know that it's important to us."
Yet Scott did little to push an Arizona-style law through the Florida Legislature, and all but abandoned calls for the law after he won his GOP primary (During the primary he ran an ad telling legislators to pass the law in a special session). While there is always next year, for now we rate this Promise Broken.
SB 2040, accessed May 6, 2011
HB 7089, accessed May 6, 2011
St. Petersburg Times, "After urgently calling for immigration bill, Gov. Scott now in wait-and-see mode," May 4, 2011
St. Petersburg Times, "Will Florida become a 'job magnet' for illegal immigrants?" May 6, 2011
In his bruising primary with Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum, Rick Scott often tried to outflank McCollum by claiming to be a more pure conservative.
No issue better illustrates this than immigration, where Scott repeatedly whacked McCollum for moderate or changing positions.
In May, Scott began airing an ad that said McCollum opposed bringing a controversial Arizona immigration law to Florida that would allow police officers to check the immigration status of people they stopped to question.
The ad used McCollum's own words -- "We don't need that law in Florida. That's not what's gonna happen here" -- while saying Scott would get tough on illegal immigration.
"Rick Scott backs Arizona's law; he'll bring it to Florida and let our police check if the people they arrest are here legally. That's common sense."
Scott repeatedly promised during the primary to bring an Arizona-style law to Florida if elected.
This Scott-O-Meter update will measure Scott's progress.
First, some background.
The Arizona law requires local law enforcement officials, once they stop a person, to verify the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect of being in the country illegally.
The bill originally was signed into law on April 23, 2010, by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. An amended version of the law -- one to lessen the prospects that racial profiling could occur -- passed and was signed into law on April 30. The new version of the law says: "A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution."
PolitiFact Florida has written extensively about the immigration bill. For instance, we ruled that McCollum committed a Full Flop for waffling positions on bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida. (In the end, he ultimately worked with a state legislator to draft a proposed law for Florida.) Interestingly, we also ruled True a claim by McCollum that Florida officers already have the ability to check the immigration status of those who are arrested.
Scott's talk about the immigration law died down during his general election campaign against Democrat Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.
But a bill meant to crack down on illegal immigration has been filed in the Senate and one will be filed in the House.
On Jan. 10, 2011, the Senate held the first of three fact-finding public hearings to help craft a final bill. The bill's sponsor, Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, said he expected a difficult road. Bennett said he copied much of his bill from the Arizona version, though it's unclear what a final immigration bill might look like.
"There probably will not be an Arizona immigration-style bill that passes the Florida Senate," Bennett told Marc Caputo of the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau.
Bennett said he is concerned with the part of the bill that's most identified with Arizona's law: the requirement that local police with "reasonable suspicion" attempt to determine a person's immigration status during a routine traffic stop or arrest. Bennett said the measure could lead to racial or ethnic profiling.
"I might not even vote for it myself," Bennett said.
In the House, Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, said he's pushing ahead and expects a bill to pass there. But unless it passes in the Senate, it won't become law -- whether Scott wants it to or not.
For his part, Scott hasn't yet entered the discussions. When asked about Bennett's bill last week, he said: "We're looking at that, but I haven't made a decision."
All of this could spell trouble for the proposed law as the legislative session begins in March. But it's too early to draw conclusions. Now that the Legislature has started formal discussions of bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida, we're able to move this promise to In the Works.
St. Petersburg Times, Florida lawmakers size up Arizona-style immigration bill, Jan. 11, 2011
Miami Herald, Bill McCollum unveils controversial immigration reform plan, Aug, 12, 2010
Florida Senate, SB 136, accessed Jan. 11, 2011
PolitiFact, Bill McCollum sends mixed signals on Arizona's immigration law, May 27, 2010
PolitiFact, Bill McCollum says Florida police can check the immigration status of people they arrest, Aug. 9, 2010