Even though a Florida law was passed 10 years ago to punish employers who hired illegal workers, state law enforcement officials admit that they’ve never enforced the law. The law prohibits anyone from knowingly hiring a worker “who is not duly authorized to work by immigration laws or the Attorney General of the United States.”
Michael Rampage, general counsel for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said, “From what I can find, from our statistics, the statute has never been enforced.” He said that there is a possibility that some employers have been charged – but no records exist to support such charges.
Rampage said that “There’s probably little time and little resources for law enforcement to proactively go and scope out employers and see if they are in violation of the law.”
The revelation, reported in Tuesday’s Miami Herald, was disclosed in a fact-finding session during a special Senate committee meeting to address changes to the existing law and potentially enact new legislation. The committee was form to examine all the issues needed to be considered before proposing new legislation that would deal with immigration issues.
While campaigning, newly-elected Gov. Rick Scott said that he would bring an Arizona-type immigration bill to Florida, although most members of the legislature now said theirs will be different, concerned about angering the Hispanic population, the state’s fastest growing electoral group.
Business interests differed widely in their stance on illegal immigration, but all seemed to agree that Arizona-type legislation was not appropriate for Florida, and would be preempted by federal law.
Jack Oliver, the legislative director for Floridians for Immigration Reform, said that the issue is all about jobs and the economy. “When someone comes here illegally, they’re stealing the American job from someone who wants to come here legally.”
Another group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, says that illegal immigration costs Florida taxpayers $5.2 million annually due to its impact on schools, social services and the law enforcement system.
A spokesperson for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Maria del Rosario Rodriguez, said “We suspect and we fear that this is motivated by political fear and racism. It’s not about jobs. It’s not about security. It’s not about the economy.”
The Florida Chamber of Commerce released a report this week saying that current immigration, both legal and illegal is within historic norms.
It said that illegal immigrants do not inflict a proportionally higher burden on law enforcement, and that they produce more economic value than they consume. A spokesperson for the Chamber said that while pursuing reform, “Florida must use caution with any immigration restrictions to help ensure that we don’t provoke an economic boycott or restrict economic growth.”