Florida Senate Likely to Consider Immigration Bill on Monday

A controversial bill that seeks to crack down on undocumented immigrants in Florida is likely to be presented to the full state Senate on Monday.

The bill drew several protests last week from a variety of groups, including the state Chamber of Commerce and others who warn that it will make the state -- which depends on tourism -- seem inhospitable to foreigners.

Among other things, the bill would require businesses to use E-Verify, a federal database that includes information needed to check a person's eligibility to work in the United States.

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos is seeking to beef up the Senate immigration reform bill in a last minute attempt to require businesses use E-Verify.

Officials confirmed Friday that Sen. J.D. Alexander will likely present the bill to the full floor Monday. Alexander is a citrus grower from Polk County who knows a thing or two about hiring immigrant labor.

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Previously, South Florida's Sen. Anitere Flores was carrying the bill. She sought to water down some of the bill's toughest language, including making the E-verify check system voluntary.

Still, Flores faced criticism from pro-immigrant groups like America's Voice Immigration Fund and Democracia USA. They repeatedly ran ads on Spanish-language radio in Miami accusing the Cuban-American legislator of being a traitor to her community.

Numerous state legislatures have considered immigration bills. Legislators who have proposed such measures argue that the federal government has failed repeatedly to fix the broken immigration system.

President Obama last week said the answer to flaws in the immigration system was a bi-partisan immigration reform bill that would include both enforcement and a pathway to legalization for certain undocumented immigrants. He said it would be chaotic for states to come up with their own immigration policies.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau has come out against a tough immigration bill that passed the Legislature this month.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the bureau's executive committee unanimously voted to pass a resolution Friday saying the bill is "unwelcoming" and could "tarnish Atlanta's reputation as one of America's most welcoming cities."

The resolution says Atlanta's economy and the businesses and employees directly and indirectly associated with the city's hospitality industry would be harmed by the loss of potential revenues.

The bureau plans to send a copy of its resolution to Gov. Nathan Deal, who has said he plans to sign the bill.

A Deal spokesman on Friday called the bill "a workable solution that enforces the rule of law and protects Georgia taxpayers while upholding individuals' constitutional rights."

This story contains material from The Associated Press.

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