Gubernatorial Candidates Debate Whether Florida Police can Check Immigration Status of Arrestees

Florida_police.jpgOur South Florida criminal defense attorneys have been following a developing story involving Republican gubernatorial candidates Bill McCollum and Rick Scott. One of Scott’s campaign ads claims that Scott supports bring Arizona’s immigration law to Florida. It goes on to say that Scott would pass a law allowing police to check whether the people they arrest are legal or illegal aliens.

However, as McCollum points out, Florida law already allows police in all 67 counties to do so. Earlier this summer, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that law enforcement officials now have access to a database maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. Prior to this, police officers were only able to check the person’s potential criminal history using fingerprints and a database maintained by the FBI.

However, unlike Arizona’s immigrations laws, Florida does not require police officers to check a person’s immigration history. Arizona’s immigration laws have not fully gone into effect due to a preliminary injunction filed by Judge Susan Bolton of Federal District Court.

Source: Bill McCollum says Florida police can check the immigration status of people they arrest, Polifact.com, August 5, 2010
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