[JURIST] Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (R) [official website] on Wednesday proposed tougher laws against illegal immigrants. McCollum unveiled a draft [text, PDF] of the new legislation, which goes “one step further” than a controversial Arizona immigration law [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive] by giving more leeway to judges and law enforcement officers in the prosecution of those suspected of being illegal immigrants. The proposed law would require immigrants to carry immigration documentation, and those found in violation would be charged with a misdemeanor and could face a sentence of up to 20 days in jail for their first offense. Illegal immigrants attempting to seek employment in Florida when not authorized to work would face misdemeanor charges as well. Judges would be allowed to consider a defendant’s illegal status when setting bond. There are also proposed sentence enhancements for illegal immigrants found to have committed a crime, such as domestic violence in the presence of a child and gang activity. McCollum cited safety concerns in voicing his support of the 29-page document and applauded the legislation’s “new enforcement tools” that will prevent Florida from becoming “a sanctuary state for illegal aliens.”
McCollum’s staff attorneys made changes to the proposed legislation in response to a ruling by a federal judge in Arizona [JURIST report] two weeks ago that enjoined several provisions of Arizona’s immigration law, which was set to go into effect at the end of last month. Judge Susan Bolton sided with the US Department of Justice [official website] in determining that provisions of the law could impair the government’s ability to enforce federal immigration policy and violate the Supremacy Clause [LII backgrounder] of the US Constitution. Bolton enjoined several provisions, including those requiring verification of the immigration status of individuals reasonably suspected of being illegal immigrants and authorizing warrantless arrests of those police have probable cause to believe have committed an offense that could lead to deportation. Bolton also enjoined a provision requiring non-citizens to carry their immigration papers with them at all times. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) [official website] filed an expedited appeal [JURIST report] to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] asking them to lift the injunction, which the court subsequently denied the next day [JURIST report]. A hearing in the matter is set to occur the week of November 1.