Senate GOP leader: E-Verify might have saved lives of 9/11 victimsby Dara Kam | May 3rd, 2011
The Florida Senate came closer to finalizing its immigration reforms after killing an amendment proposed by powerful Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher.
Thrasher’s plan would have fined businesses that hired workers in the country illegally but would not have required business owners to use the federal E-Verify system.
Trying to convince senators to support his amendment, Thrasher implied that the 9/11 terrorist attacks might not have happened nearly a decade ago if Florida had the E-Verify system in place.
“I will remind everybody in here that 10 of the 19 terrorists that attacked our country that were directed by Osama bin Laden to do that lived in the state of Florida. I wish we had had an E-Verify system because some of them were working. We might have saved the lives of 3,000 Americans,” said Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, a former House Speaker who also recently served as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.
The Senate killed the amendment by a 23-16 vote after more than an hour, including a heartfelt speech by JD Alexander, the Senate’s immigration reform architect.
Alexander, a citrus farmer who also raises blueberries, crafted a measure that, among other things, would essentially exempt agricultural businesses like his from having to verify workers’ immigration status.
But he objected to Thrasher’s amendment after saying he could not find enough legal immigrants – or other workers – to pick his blueberry crop during the season that ended this week and expressing frustration that the federal government’s inaction on the issue was forcing state lawmakers to acting because of political pressure from tea party activists.
“Quit all these one-sided political arguments,” said Alexander, who is term-limited out of office next year. “I don’t believe it’s the right thing to do. The federal government should stop it tomorrow without a doubt. But we’re not talking about that…This is not our problem and we’re having this problem put on our shoulders and I resent it. And I resent it because we’re asked to choose between hard-working people and somebody’s uninformed knowledge” of illegal immigration.