Florida Is The Latest Political Hotbed In Immigration Reform Dilemma

Comprehensive Immigration Reform has gone around the block so many times and come back a different thing that no one seems to know what it is now and what it was in the first place.

Florida seems about ready to open a can of worms over comprehensive immigration reform and it may well be interesting to watch the politicians balance on the sharp picket fence. One politico, Adam Putnam, the new commissioner of the Agriculture department, is not happy with a gangbusters approach to illegal immigration.

Putnam has actually been around long enough to have a fairly well developed opinion about CIR on the federal and state levels and he is worried that some of the latest proposals to deal with illegal immigration will end up mimicking Arizona’s hardball laws. His point of view, which is an interesting one, but perhaps a bit skewed, suggests that the adoption of a law like the one in Arizona may boomerang and damage Florida’s reputation for being the focal point of tourism and trade.

It is not a major secret that Florida is a preferred location for international R&D, investment capital and international tourism, particularly from those who hail from Latin America. In other words, if Florida does the wrong thing handling the immigration issue, they can expect to pay dearly in lost economic opportunities. Putnam feels it is best to walk softly and carry a big conciliatory stick, even though he does acknowledge that reform is necessary, but at the federal level.

On the other side of the fence, Florida Governor Rick Scott favors an Arizona-style law and he has stuck by that opinion ever since he was sworn in, early in January. Scott is not averse to seeing change at the state level, but the issue remains that only Congress is able to negotiate with foreign countries and change laws relating to student visas, work permits and border patrol questions. Therein lies the potential for a mighty political clash, stoked by the governor saying things that suggest the federal government stay out of his state.

Putnam’s larger concern is how largely unenforceable laws, which may well result in human rights violations, are going to affect agriculture; an industry that offers more than 400,000 jobs. Thus, he is a proponent of reform, but done carefully and with common sense. The last thing that Florida needs is for a law to impinge on the ability of the powers that be to hand out temporary visas for agricultural workers; a disaster in wolf’s clothing, as Americans do not want the jobs.

So, where is CIR these days? Either it is buried in a hail of bullets, hiding in immigration raids and deportations, or it is still somewhere waiting for the politicians to get with the program. It may be a long wait.

Sally Odell – Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami Florida. To learn more, visit http://www.rifkinandfoxisicoff.com.

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