The folks in Florida found a way to make Arizona’s SB 1070 sound better. They did it by fashioning their own anti-immigrant bill, modeled after Arizona’s law, that makes no pretense about who it’s targeting.
Florida state Rep. William Snyder’s proposed SB 1070-style law, drafted in August, would empower police to pull over and question anyone they had a reasonable suspicion to believe was in the country without papers. But even if an officer truly believed someone was in the country without papers, they would be "presumed to be legally in the United States" if the person could show a Canadian passport or one from another "visa waiver country".
Visa-wavier countries include 32 Western Europe nations and four Asian nations. (It’s Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Brunei, if you’re wondering.) So Snyder’s bill helpfully narrows the profiling field of vision for Florida’s cops, down to brown and black.
"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 Miami New Times.
Snyder insists the bill does nothing of the sort. "Race, ethnicity, and national origin cannot be used in making arrests. It’s immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional," the Miami New Times reported him saying in a recent radio interview.
"What we’re doing [with the waiver language] is trying to be sensitive to Canadians. We have an enormous amount of … Canadians wintering here in Florida," Snyder said elsewhere. "That language is comfort language."
Comfort language. It doesn’t likely calm the nerves of Florida’s Latinos and Haitians, however. Arizona state legislator Russell Pearce is probably kicking himself now, wondering why he didn’t think of this first.