Bidding to make Florida the largest state with a mandatory E-Verify law, immigration-enforcement activists are close to putting the program up for a public vote.
Frustrated with politicians whose campaign pledges evaporate in office, Floridians for Immigration Enforcement and allied groups are on the verge of getting an employment-verification proposition on the November ballot.
The state Constitution Revision Commission voted for the proposal 19-13 after two committees unanimously approved it. But 22 votes are needed by next week’s deadline to make the ballot.
Billionaire GOP contributor Michael Fernandez and nearly 70 other business and political leaders are stepping up their fight to block the way. Money talks, and Fernandez is speaking loudly.
Throwing in with the Immigration Partnership and Coalition (IMPAC) Fund – and against legal workers in Florida — Fernandez & Co. blithely assert that “E-Verify will destroy our state’s economy.”
In truth, the big-money opposition to E-Verify is a rear-guard effort to perpetuate Florida’s shadowy low-wage economy at the expense of legal workers. Though Gov. Rick Scott signed a 2008 executive order requiring E-Verify for state agencies and their contractors, Florida remains the only state in the Southeast without a comprehensive E-Verify program.
The Naples Daily News, in an investigation into “Florida’s Disposable Workers,” reported that employers across the state “continue accepting false documents without checking them, even in industries with a high percentage of unauthorized workers or with a history of employees using fake identification. Some workers have accused employers of actually providing the false documents.”
The fight over E-Verify comes down to a battle between powerful lobbyists and billionaires against working men and women whose voices and concerns have long been ignored at the Legislature, where Republican super majorities have killed 48 immigration-enforcement bills since 2008.
Though a rising tide of illegal aliens costs the Sunshine State more than $6 billion annually, Floridians cannot assume that the three additional votes needed for the E-Verify proposition are a lock. Nor can they count on all the earlier supporters holding firm.
CRC Chairman Carlos Beruff ran for U.S. Senate against Marco Rubio on a mandatory E-Verify platform. Now on the commission, Beruff voted against E-Verify.
Florida politicians can make all the empty promises they need to get elected. They can even pass immigration laws that tinker around the margins. But until E-Verify becomes law, Florida’s illegal job magnet will continue attract outlaw labor, and law-abiding workers will pay the price.
It’s time the citizens of Florida had their say.