[UPDATE] Crowds Swarm Florida Capitol Over Immigration Reform Bill

By: Eyewitness News; AP Email
By: Eyewitness News; AP Email

[UPDATE] 4-14-2011 11:55am - TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) --

Business groups say state legislation designed to curtail illegal immigration would hurt Florida's tourism and agriculture industries while reducing tax revenues.

That argument, though, failed to sway a House committee that
approved the Republican-sponsored bill (HB 7089) Thursday on a
largely party line 11-7 roll call.

Supporters said that measure that would make illegal immigration
a state crime is needed because the federal government has failed
to control the nation's borders.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of
Florida and Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association had denounced
the House bill and a similar measure that's moving in the Senate.

Chamber Vice President Adam Babington told the Economic Affairs
Committee that the legislation would tarnish Florida's image
internationally and scare away tourists from Latin America and the


[UPDATE] 4-13-2011 at 10:50 By Candace Sweat

A vote was not taken on Senate Bill 2040 at the Senate Budget Committee Meeting on Wednesday.

But that didn't stop several dozen people from marching up to see Senator Haridoplis, a supporter of the bill. And when they were told he wasn't there, they stayed anyway, and prayed.

They asked for God's help in the fight against immigration reform legislation. SB 2040 would allow law enforcement to stop people and ask for proof of their immigration status. It's a law that these people say gives authorities the green light on racial profiling.

"Immigration reform is desperately needed. However, it is not the position of the state to interfere in programs that are really where the federal government ought to step in," said Andrea Ortega with the We Are Florida Campaign.

There was standing room only in the chambers today as the senate discussed several bills, from workers' unions to medicaid. But more than 100 immigrants and their supporters made it very clear why they were there; immigration reform.

And for those who say the people in groups like this should do it the right way and become legal citizens, Andrea Ortega says it's not that simple.

"If there was a line that we could all get into, trust me we would get in that line and we would do it the way we could. But the immigration laws are extremely complex. Getting here is just not that easy," said Ortega.

Eyewitness News has attempted on more than one occasion to get in touch with the bill's sponsor, Senator Anitere Flores, but we have not heard back from her.

As for Senate President Mike Haridopolis, his aid says he will probably not be commenting on the issue until a vote comes through.
[UPDATE] 4-13 3:00pm -

The room was packed as SB 2040 was postponed. A vote was not taken today, however, Senator Alexander did allow testimony from the group opposing the measure. The bill could be taken up again sometime this week.

Picture is attached above.


UPDATED 4/11/2011 By Candace Sweat

Azucena Pineea says she came to the United States 15 years ago for opportunity and never left. But Senate Bill 2040 could change the life she says she's worked hard to build.

"I came here to have a better family, to live a better life, and to have a better place to live that's more safe and secure," said Pineea

That's why this crowd gathered in front of the capitol Monday afternoon for a vigil. Many of them are familiar with Pineea's story.

Senate Bill 2040 would allow authorities to stop people at any given time and ask for proof of their legal immigration status. It's a bill that Michele Rudy says is simply a free pass for law enforcement to practice racial profiling.

"How do you tell? How are you gonna tell if someone is undocumented or not? So that means they'll looking for people based on the color of their skin to stop them and ask them," said Michele Rudy with the "We Are Florida Campaign"

The bill is expected to come up on the agenda at the Senate Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday (4-13) where a vote is expected to take place on whether to move the bill to the floor.

Rudy says she agrees that immigration reform is needed, she says this just isn't the way.

"A federal immigration reform so people can get right by the law and have a chance to be citizens. These kind of laws don't help us get towards that," said Rudy.

Eyewitness News did contact the sponsor of the bill, Senator Anitere Flores's office, as well as Senate President Mike Haridopolis, who also supports the bill. We have not yet heard back from them.
Tallahassee, FL-
An Arizona-style Immigration bill continues moving forward through the legislature and concerned Floridians are calling on the community to participate in a daily vigil against the bill.
Just one week after SB 2040 passed the Judiciary Committee, the bill is set to be heard this coming Wednesday, April 13th, at the Senate Budget Committee meeting.
Dozens of people have gathered at the capitol Monday to hold a prayer vigil and protest the bill that would allow authorities to stop people and ask for proof of their immigration status.
The protesters are holding signs saying "Florida is the Sunshine State" not the "Show me your papers state."
The crowd plans to get together every day until the Senate budget hearing on Wednesday when the issued is expected to come up again.
Eyewitness News did contact the sponsor of the bill, Senator Anitere Flores's office, as well as Senate President Mike Haridopolis- who also supports the bill but have not yet heard back from them.

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