Late last month, Florida’s attorney general Bill McCollum — who is currently running for Governor — criticized Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. “I think Arizona has its own unique problems. I don’t think Florida should enact laws like this – quite that far out,” he said.
But just a little more than 2 weeks later, McCollum has flip-flopped on his original position. The Miami Herald reports that McCollum released the following statement today:
I support Arizona’s law as amended, and if the federal government fails to secure our borders and solve the problem of illegal immigration, I would support a similar law for Florida. Arizona leaders recently made needed changes that address concerns I had that the law could be abused and misused to perform racially profiled stops and arrests. I do not support any measure that would result in racial profiling or other unintended consequences for law abiding American citizens.
McCollum — like Florida senatorial candidate Marco Rubio (R) before him — is citing the fact that Arizona has since amended its original law as a pretext for his evolving position. But as some Arizona officials have noted, many of the revisions are purely “cosmetic” changes to the bill that have made it “minimally less racist.” The Wonk Room’s Andrea Nill notes that the amended bill would cast a wider net against Latinos. A police officer responding to city ordinance violations would be required to determine the immigration status of an individual they have “reasonable suspicion” of being an undocumented immigrant.
McCollum’s flip may have more to do with political factors at play. One of his opponents in the gubernatorial race, health care scam artist Rick Scott, has endorsed the Arizona law. Moreover, a Rasmussen poll released last week found that 62 percent of Florida voters support Arizona’s law. McCollum presumably found that his principled stand against racial profiling was politically inconvenient.