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South Florida Merchants Oppose Immigration Legislation

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May 6, 2011

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Some business, community, religious and political leaders in greater Miami are joining the opposition to immigration legislation being considered in Tallahassee.

Senate Bill 2040, a so-called "Arizona copycat immigration bill," passed 23-16 late Wednesday. The bill now is in the House chamber as HB 7089, but time is running out for final action on bills because the legislative session ends today.

Jonathan Fried of We Count, speaking for a group of merchants in the area's Latino community, claims the bill is a politically motivated red herring by upper-chamber President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island.

"We've met with Sen. Haradopolos a number of times. You know, it's politics."

Washington-based reports that thousands of tourists already have signed petitions pledging to boycott Florida if the legislation passes. Protesters have been at the state Capitol for weeks because of concerns about the creation of new police powers similar to those being challenged in court in Arizona. Proponents counter that the state must take steps to halt illegal immigration.

Fried points out that the Florida economy is already bad, and an Arizona-style immigration law will only make it worse.

"It's not going to do what the proponents say it's going to do. It's not going to create more jobs. It will probably have the opposite impact, and then, yes, there will probably be boycotts."

The Florida Immigrant Coalition estimates that if the bill becomes law, Florida stands to lose up to $45 billion from the negative impact on tourism and small businesses.

Les Coleman, Public News Service - FL