Florida immigration reform: 67 mini-Arizonas?by Dara Kam | April 4th, 2011
On the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination 43 years ago, immigrants and advocates rallied in the Capitol to protest immigration reforms one said would turn Florida into “67 little Arizonas.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee is hearing a measure (SB 2040) this afternoon that would, among other things, authorize sheriffs to enter agreements with federal officials that would allow them to operate as immigration agents.
That could be dangerous, immigrant advocates cautioned, because that component was the cornerstone of Arizona’s much-maligned immigration reforms, many of which state lawmakers there are now rethinking.
The bill would “county-by-county implement little Arizonas all over Florida,” said Subhash Kateel, an organizer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “We don’t need 67 Arizonas in our state.”
Betzy Rega, an American citizen of Guatemalan descent, traveled from Jupiter to attend the hearing.
She said she’s afraid the bill would give the green light to police officers and sheriffs’ deputies for racial profiling.
Rega said her dark-skinned nephew was interrogated by Palm Beach County sheriffs two years ago and accused of kidnapping his own, lighter-skinned son.
Laws like Arizona’s are “feeding into the frenzy of racism,” Rega said. “We’re on a very dangerous track and it’s a form of abuse of power.”