E-Verify and Arizona Style Enforcement Law At The Center of Florida Immigration Debate

Two immigration bills, one in the state House the other in the state Senate, are causing protest from immigration activists and business leaders in Florida.

Laura Munoz of The Associated Press has the full story here:

Immigrant advocates say components of the House bill closely resemble the very ones in Arizona's new immigration law that a federal appeals court recently upheld were unconstitutional. Florida's House bill would authorize local law enforcement to check out the immigration status of anyone under investigation, even if the individual had never been arrested. And it would allow local officers to check the immigration status whenever they suspected someone is in the country illegally. The House bill also requires employers to use the federal government's E-Verify work authorization program.

Both advocates for and against stronger immigration laws are also focused on E-Verify, an employment verification system that has proven controversial for Florida Lawmakers:

The Senate bill is more limited, but it still requires local law enforcement check the immigration status of inmates, encouraging them to go beyond simply using federal criminal and immigration databases. The Senate bill would also allow businesses to let employees use a driver's license as proof they are authorized to work, instead of the E-Verify program. Supporters of stronger immigration enforcement say the Senate version of the bill is worthless because driver licenses from other states are too easy to forge and won't prove work eligibility.

Joyce Tarnow of the Floridians for a Sustainable Population was dissapointed that the Senate Bill did not require businesses in the state to use E-Verify:

Deeply disappointed with the Senate version of the bill, not because its enforcement provisions are watered down but because it doesn't make E-verify mandatory. She noted the latest review of the program by the U.S. Congress found it was accurate nearly 98 percent of the time. "E-verify is free, easy to use, highly accurate," she said, adding, "The agricultural industry and hotel industries just don't want to lose their access to cheap labor. It's the simplest, clearest way to have people self-deport."

More state legislatures are beginning to recognize that Arizona style laws may not be the best way to deal with immigration issues. The question may now become, how best to utilize the existing tools in the federal enforcement tool kit.

Making E-Verify mandatory, is coming up more often in individual states as a way for states to better enforce immigration laws. Utilizing existing federal employer verification programs is currently not mandatory nation wide.

NAVICUS an employment screening software organization that is part of the National Association of Professional Background Sreeners has a handy map up that shows which states require employment screeners and which do not, it can be seen below:

States in the Red have passed mandatory E-Verify, states in the orange recommend using E-Verify and states in the blue have no E-Verify law.

As Congress looks for ways in which the federal government can beef up enforcement nationwide, could a mandatory E-Verify be far behind?