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Florida Immigration Bill With E-Verify Could See Tuesday Vote

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TALLAHASSEE (CBS4/NSF) – A state immigration bill that would require employers in Florida to use the federal e-Verify system to check potential employees immigration status appears dead for 2011, but an alternate version that protects employers who use E-verify, but does not require them to do so, may emerge Tuesday.

Florida Senate leaders are trying to work out details of a bill that would allow law enforcement officials to seek the immigration status of only those they arrest, a stricter standard than a House proposal that allow suspects to be screened.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Senate President Mike Haridopolos said he hoped to have a vote on the immigration bill Tuesday, a pledge his rules chairman said was likely but no slam dunk.

Haridopolos repeated that recipients of financial assistance and other state services should be screened for immigrant status. He also said that employers who choose not to use E-verify, a federal immigration database, would run the risk of criminal and civil penalties.

The statement appears to back up the notion that the Senate would not require employers to use the system that has come under fire from some quarters for being inaccurate.

If the senate approved the version being discussed, it would have to reconcile with the House proposal (HB 7089) that would allow officials to seek immigrant status on suspects of criminal investigation, an easier threshold to reach House members have been waiting for the Senate to move on the issue. SB 2040 is scheduled for debate on Tuesday but language has not been finalized.

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