Proposed Florida Immigration Law Exempts Canadians, Western Europeans From Scrutiny

Florida is one of at least 20 states designing an immigration bill similar to Arizona’s SB-1070, which requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they think might be in the country illegally. State Rep. William Snyder (R) introduced the legislation in August, and Rick Scott, the Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for governor, favors such a bill.

Snyder has denied criticisms that such legislation could be used to discriminate against Latinos, saying in a recent radio interview that “race, ethnicity, and national origin cannot be used in making arrests. It’s immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional.” However, the bill he introduced does appear to do just that — it exempts all Canadian and Western Europeans from extensive scrutiny. The exception, first reported by the Miami New Times, says a person will be “presumed to be legally in the United States” if he or she provides “a Canadian passport” or a passport from any “visa waiver country.” Four Asian nations and all 32 Western European countries make up the visa waiver list.

So under the proposed law, Canadians and Western Europeans will simply be presumed to be here legally, and they are not required to document it. “That language makes it clear that police are targeting only a specific minority,” Susana Barciela, policy director at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, told the New Times.

After running ads during the Republican primary explicitly calling for an Arizona-style immigration law in Florida, Scott has been largely silent on immigration since the general election began. But last week, Scott said he would support Snyder’s bill if it passed. At a Univision gubernatorial debate earlier this month, he reiterated his support for an Arizona-style law, but said that his support was on the condition that “none of our law enforcement is ever put in a position that they are even accused of any racial profiling.” Watch it:

Either Scott is not aware of what’s in the bill he’s promised to support, or he doesn’t find an exclusion for predominantly white countries to be “racial profiling.”