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Senate immigration update: E-Verify, biz fines, boycotts now in the mix

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

Senate Rule Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, filed an amendment to the immigration bill (SB 2040) that would fine businesses up to $1,500 for each unauthorized worker hired after July 1, 2012.

Thrasher’s amendment would not force business owners to use the federal E-Verify system – which could cost up to $60 per hiree for small businesses – but would fine those who hire undocumented workers $500 for the first offense, $1,000 for the second and $1,500 after that.

Thrasher’s amendment also would force state agencies to use E-Verify before hiring new employees, something Gov. Rick Scott has done for current state workers.

Meanwhile, national groups are threatening to boycott Florida as they did Arizona if lawmakers approve legislation they deem would be a vehicle for racial profiling. The legislature’s Hispanic caucus also came out in opposition to the reforms today.

Left-leaning organizers,, held a telephone conference this morning warning they are mobilizing boycotts and voter registration drives. They said the Arizona boycotts cost that state hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Our members in Florida and around the country are watching the legislature very closely today,” said executive director Justin Ruben. “Our members will take their business and their tourism dollars elsewhere.”

The Senate is slated to take up Senate budget chief JD Alexander’s proposed immigration reform today as Friday’s end to the legislative session approaches. Alexander, a farmer, filed a proposal that would essentially exempt the agricultural industry from the reforms but includes a variety of other measures that would make it easier to deport criminals who are in the country illegally after their sentences are complete. They could also serve reduced sentences if they agree not to fight deportation.

The House’s version, sponsored by Stuart Republican William Snyder, goes much farther and would allow law enforcement officials to request documentation if the individual is the subject of a criminal investigation. Snyder’s proposal (HB 7089) would also require that all businesses use E-Verify.

Immigration ‘activist’ expected to plead no contest in Snyder threat case

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 by George Bennett

Pintado appears before a Martin County judge in February.

Manuel Pintado — the self-described “political activist” charged with sending an e-mail threat to state Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, because he disagreed with Snyder’s Arizona-style immigration bill — is expected to plead no contest today to a pair of felony charges and be sentenced to five years probation, TCPalm reports.

On Jan. 8 — shortly after the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in which six others were killed — Snyder received an unsigned e-mail that said: “You better just stop that ridiculous law if you value you rand your familie’s lives (expletive).”

Police say they traced the e-mail to Pintado, who was charged with felony counts of corruption by threat and written threat to kill or do bodily injury.

In Massachusetts, where the 47-year-old Pintado is a student at the University of Massachusetts, the Daily Collegian reported in February that friends and family describe Pintado as a pacifist who’s passionate about immigrant rights.

Senate immigration leader has serious reservations about reforms

Friday, April 29th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Senate budget chief JD Alexander, a citrus farmer who’s now shepherding a developing immigration reform package, expressed his reservations about the push to deport illegal immigrants, many of whom have lived in the state for decades picking fruit and vegetables for his colleagues.

Alexander, R-Lake Wales, said he’s concerned about the fallout from the federal E-Verify program to check on potential employees, something Gov. Rick Scott has already initiated for state government workers and a component tea party activists are pushing lawmakers to pass.

“My personal struggle with E-Verify is that many of these folks have been here for decades for good or for bad,” he said.

In “a perfect world” the federal government would control the borders but instead has given tacit permission for illegal workers to remain in the country, Alexander said.

“It seems challenging to suddenly ask them to not be able to be here. I personally believe we need a federal guest program to allow for some sort of normalization of these folks status where they can be protected by our laws without fear of deportation,” he said. “Because some of these things have been going on for so long, I’m personally troubled by the broad net that could be cast.”

Alexander said he’s having a hard time balancing his duties as budget chief and agricultural baron as he tries to get his blueberry crop harvested.

“I’m probably short about 100 people to get my blueberries picked,” he said, adding that he and other blueberry farmers can find less than half the workers they need to get their crops in.

“For all the unemployment there just aren’t folks who want to pick blueberries,” he said.

The Senate is slated to take up its immigration package on Monday. Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, had pledged that each bill would pass through at least three committees before being sent to the floor for a vote. But he reversed himself on the contentious immigration measure (SB 2040), which was heard in a single committee. Haridopolos also took the bill away from its sponsor, Sen. Anitere Flores, and gave it to Alexander this week. Flores, a Cuban-American Republican from Miami, refused to go along with the Arizona-style bill proposed by the House, sponsored by William Snyder, R-Stuart.

Hundreds of immigrants, including undocumented workers, and children whose parents have been deported have swarmed the Capitol over the past several weeks demanding that lawmakers abandon the immigration package.

House committee passes Arizona-lite immigration bill

Thursday, March 10th, 2011 by Dara Kam

A House committee approved a somewhat watered-down immigration bill that would allow law enforcement officials to demand proof of citizenship during an arrest or criminal investigation and require businesses to verify that employees are in the country legally.

Judiciary Committee Chairman William Snyder, R-Stuart, sponsored the bill (PCB JDC 11-01) included several concessions to business groups and others concerned that an Arizona-style measure, among other things, would scare off tourists.

Unlike Arizona’s law, police would not be allowed to request documentation during traffic stops but would be permitted to request papers during criminal investigations or arrests or if they have a “reasonable suspicion” someone may be engaging in criminal activity.

But the modifications of Snyder’s original proposal did not appease opponents.

Man accused of Snyder threat preferred Massachusetts jail to Martin County ‘slum’

Friday, February 18th, 2011 by George Bennett


Manuel Pintado, charged with threatening the life of state Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, over Snyder’s immigration bill, is back in Massachusetts after his sister posted a $40,000 bond to free him from the Martin County Jail while he awaits trial, reports.

Pintado’s minister told the publication that the 47-year-old University of Massachusetts student didn’t care for the accommodations in Martin County.

“He said the Hampshire County jail is like the Hilton compared to the slum they had for a jail in Florida,” Rev. Mark Seifried said in the article.

Judge sets $450,000 bond for man accused of threatening Rep. Snyder

Thursday, February 10th, 2011 by George Bennett

Closed-circuit TV image of Pintado appearing before Judge Kathleen Roberts today.

STUART — Martin County Circuit Judge Kathleen Roberts today set bond at $450,000 for Manuel Pintado, the self-described “political activist” from Massachusetts accused of threatening state Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, because he disagrees with Snyder’s proposed immigration bill.

Wearing an orange Martin County Jail uniform and glasses, Pintado said “No, your honor,” when Roberts asked if he had any questions after she read the charges and bond amounts and said she had appointed a public defender to represent him. Pintado appeared via closed circuit TV from the jail while Roberts was at the county courthouse.

Pintado, a 47-year-old University of Massachusetts sociology student described by friends as passionate about immigrants’ rights, is accused of sending an e-mail to Snyder that said: “You better just stop that ridiculous law if you value you rand your familie’s lives (expletive).”

Snyder has proposed an Arizona-style immigration law for Florida.

Roberts set a $300,000 bond for the charge of making a written threat to kill or do bodily injury and a $150,000 bond for the charge of corruption by threat.


‘Activist’ accused of threatening Rep. Snyder now in Martin County Jail

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 by George Bennett

Pintado's Martin County Jail mugshot.

Manuel Pintado, a 47-year-old University of Massachusetts sociology student described by friends as passionate about immigrants’ rights, was taken into custody by Martin County sheriff’s deputies today and will appear before a judge Thursday on charges he threatened the life of state Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart.

Pintado was arrested in Massachusetts on Jan. 31, then released on his own recognizance by a Massachusetts judge on Monday with orders to fly to Florida to face charges. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office said two deputies arrested Pintado “without incident” this morning at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers.


On Jan. 8 — shortly after the assassination attempt on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in which six others were killed — Snyder received an unsigned e-mail that said: “You better just stop that ridiculous law if you value you rand your familie’s lives (expletive).”

Snyder has proposed a law cracking down on illegal immigration in Florida similar to a controversial measure in Arizona.


Mass. judge trusts Snyder threat suspect to show up in Florida; relative compares accused to Sarah Palin

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 by George Bennett


Manuel Pintado, the 47-year-old University of Massachusetts sociology student and self-described “political activist” accused of threatening state Rep. William Snyder of Stuart, was released from custody by a Massachusetts judge Monday and ordered to present himself in court in Martin County by Friday morning to face charges.

Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder, who sent detectives to Massachusetts to escort Pintado to Florida, said he’s “baffled” by the judge’s decision and has “grave concerns” that Pintado won’t show up. (Read Crowder’s entire statement after the jump.)

A lengthy article on Pintado in the University of Massachusetts Daily Collegian says friends and relatives describe Pintado as “an amiable pacifist with a passion for immigrants’ rights and state support of public higher education, though they said he suffers from anxiety and could sometimes become swept up in his own dedication and act excitedly.”

The article quotes Pintado’s son-in-law as saying Pintado did something dumb, “right up there with all the teenagers who call in fake bomb threats to their junior high schools and people like Sharron Angle who call for citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights, or Sarah Palin or people who show up to political rallies with nooses and shotguns, but he is not a killer, not even close.”


Massachusetts ‘activist’ arrested for e-mail threat to state Rep. Snyder

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 by George Bennett

A self-described Massachusetts “political activist” was arrested Monday night and charged with sending a threatening e-mail to state Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, an hour after the Arizona shooting that killed six and critically injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The unsigned e-mail, sent to Snyder’s state House of Representatives address on Jan. 8, told the legislator to “stop that ridiculous law if you value your and your familie’s lives.”

Snyder has proposed an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration for Florida.


Snyder running for sheriff in Martin County

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Rep. William Snyder filed his qualification papers to run for Martin County Sheriff this morning.

Snyder, a Stuart Republican, could have run for another two years in the state House before term limits kicked in but the former police officer says he wants to go back to the job he loves.

Snyder is drawing heat for sponsoring an Arizona-style immigration law and last week held a crowded town hall meeting in Palm City on the contentious issue.

Martin County Sheriff Bob Crowder apparently is not seeking reelection, Snyder said.

Snyder started his career at age 20 as a Metro-Dade police officer, where he worked for two decades before going to work at the Martin County Sheriff’s department. He spent another 13 years there, Snyder said.

“My whole background in adult life has been in law enforcement,” Snyder said shortly after filing his papers this morning. “Law enforcement’s my first love. I love it. I think for me to be the sheriff in my community would give me more ability to have a real impact on people in my community.”

Snyder said he wants to cut costs at the sheriff’s office by using civilians to handle preliminary reports on non-violent crimes and complaints. He also wants to continue Crowder’s modernization efforts.

Senate holds civilized immigration reform meeting, stresses ‘decorum’

Monday, January 10th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Florida Senate held a low-key information-gathering session on immigration reform late this afternoon, the first in a series of meetings coinciding with immigration legislation currently in the works.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos put Sen. Anitere Flores, a Cuban-American from Miami and chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in charge of three meetings on the controversial topic that legislatures throughout the nation are grappling with.

Today’s meeting included presentations from federal immigration authorities and an update from state education, prison and highway safety officials as well as a law professor from Florida International University.

Flores said she hoped the cerebral kick-off would set the stage for future discussions to be held in “dispassionate and well-informed manner.”

But some lawmakers were clearly frustrated by what they heard.

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