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Florida bill ‘goes one step further’ than Arizona immigration law

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20 days in jail for immigrants who don’t carry documentation on them

Florida’s Republican attorney general on Wednesday proposed toughening the state’s immigration laws, with powers to punish illegal immigration that could go beyond a controversial Arizona law.

Bill McCollum, who is running for governor, introduced the legislation amid an increasingly charged public debate over how far states should go to control illegal immigration, traditionally a federal responsibility.

McCollum said the bill “goes one step further” than the Arizona law, because it would increase penalties for illegal immigrants convicted of crimes in Florida, and makes it harder for illegal immigrants to post bail.

“This legislation will provide new enforcement tools for protecting our citizens and will help our state fight the ongoing problems created by illegal immigration,” he said in a press release. “Florida will not be a sanctuary state for illegal aliens.”

“Like Arizona, the draft legislation requires aliens to carry immigration documentation or face a misdemeanor carrying a sentence of up to 20 days in jail for the first offense,” the press release states. “The proposal also makes it a misdemeanor for an illegal alien not authorized to work to seek employment in the state of Florida.”

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The law instructs judges to take into account violation of immigration regulations in setting bail, or to elevate the degree of criminal charges.

It also provides for longer prison sentences for crimes committed by immigrants who are in the country illegally.

“This law is fairly balanced to protect the rights of those who are here legally and illegally,” McCollum said, calling it “a huge step for public safety.”

The legislation requires police making an arrest to determine whether the person is in the country legally, something they can now do on a voluntary basis but which normally is the province of immigration authorities.

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McCollum said that under the proposed law, police could arrest some on a “reasonable suspicion” that they are illegal immigrants.

He said the law bars “unreasonable profiling,” however, which means that arrests on the basis of a person’s appearance alone would not be allowed.

The lack of papers or a driver’s license, however, might be enough to constitute a reasonable suspicion, according to McCollum.

“You are supposed to have papers to show that you are here legally and if you don’t have them, you don’t have a legal status to be here,” he said.

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The proposed law also would strengthen controls on the hiring of immigrants and would require companies to use an electronic system to prove that people they hire are in the country legally.

Immigration rights groups estimate that there are some 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, most of them Hispanics living in southern states like Arizona, Texas and to less extent Florida.

A law criminalizing illegal immigration went into effect in Arizona last month amid protests and bitter debate that drew in President Barack Obama, who promised comprehensive immigration reform.

A US federal judge issued an injunction against the most controversial portions of the Arizona law last month, but the state is appealing the ruling.

With a report from AFP

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Virginia Democrats are so fired up that the party chair had to scold them: ‘Sit down — be quit’

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Democrats in Virginia are fired up as they gathered in Richmond for their annual gala dinner.

Political analysts believe the Democratic Party of Virginia has a good chance to win control of the state legislature in 2019's election, before setting their sights on the Commonwealth continuing its recent trend of voting Democratic in presidential elections.

Patrick Wilson, a political reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, attended the event.

He reported that Democrats were so "noisy" that it was hard to hear the speakers, which include presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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‘Everyone knows what to expect’ at Trump’s Amway Center re-election kickoff

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Donald Trump considers himself a legendary salesman, but can he really sell America on giving him four more drama-filled years at the White House?

Tuesday, he'll make his big pitch.

The 2020 reelection kickoff rally is being held in Orlando, Florida and campaign operations chief Michael Glassner says the "historic" event "has already generated tens of thousands of ticketing requests."

There's little mystery about how the night will go down.

Expect Trump, the self-promoting hero of his ghost-written book "The Art of the Deal," to claim the US economy is richer, the military stronger, and the country more respected than ever in history.

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Florida man’s own family blasts him after he was arrested for racist threats: ‘This isn’t how we were raised’

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After a Florida man was arrested for trying to start a race war, a member of his own family slammed his values.

"A Florida man’s social media posts that threatened violence against African-Americans, Jews and homosexuals and that urged his followers to start a race war netted him a $1 million bond," the Miami Herald reported Saturday. "And then there’s another $100,000 bond he would have to pay to get out of Lee County Jail because of a weapons charge."

Joshua Leff, 40, is being held in the Lee County Jail.

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