Immigration reform uncertain as advocates keep up pressureby Dara Kam | April 28th, 2011
Lake Worth City Commissioner Chris McVoy joined immigrants in the Capitol rotunda Thursday afternoon to urge lawmakers to abandon immigration reform even as the developing Senate bill remains in limbo.
The city commission this week reaffirmed its opposition to any Arizona-style bill like the one proposed by the Florida House (HB 7089).
McVoy said the local officials object to the bill for humanitarian and financial reasons as well as concerns about public safety.
An Arizona-style bill could have a devastating economic impact because Lake Worth has so many Hispanic residents, McVoy said.
“These folks work. They spend money in the community. They pay taxes in the community,” said McVoy, who was elected in November.
The House package would allow law enforcement officials to request proof of immigration status during routine traffic stops, something that could be a huge financial burden to the city, McVoy said. And it could threaten the relationship police officers have with the Latino community whose members would be more disinclined to report crimes if the measure becomes law, he said.
McVoy and others said they want the bill to include a pathway to citizenship similar to the guestworker program recently adopted in Utah.
A fiscal analysis by the left-leaning Center for American Progress found the immigration reforms could cost up the state and businesses up to $45 billion, including $1 billion in implementation costs.
“Where is this money going to come from in the middle of an economic crisis?” asked Subhash Kateel, an organizer with the “We are Florida” campaign. Kateel and others have brought hundreds of documented and undocumented immigrants to the Capitol, including children whose parents were deported, to plead with lawmakers to abandon the immigration reforms.
The Senate Budget Committee was supposed to hear the bill in committee today but that meeting has been postponed until at least tomorrow.
National groups are already galvanizing around the issue to register voters for the 2012 election, said Renata Bozzetto, an organizer with votolatino.org who joined the Capitol protests Thursday morning.
Florida has one of the highest percentages of Hispanic voters in the country, Bozzetto, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, said.