Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum unveiled a sweeping immigration bill for Florida that he said would be stricter than Arizona's controversial law that allows police to check the immigration status of residents who are pulled over or detained, The Miami Herald
"Arizona is going to want this law,'' said McCollum, the Sunshine State's attorney general. "We're better, we're stronger, we're tougher, and we're fairer."
McCollum's proposed legislation, announced Wednesday in Orlando, would require immigrants to carry valid documentation or face up to 20 days in jail, the Herald said. The so-called "Florida Immigration Enforcement Act" would also let judges impose tougher penalties on illegal immigrants who commit the same crimes as legal residents and allow residency status to be taken into consideration during sentencing.
Taking on immigration in a heavily Hispanic state like Florida is a sharp jag to the right for McCollum, who has been running neck-and-neck
with his GOP opponent, former health care executive Rick Scott
. Earlier this year McCollum was quoted as calling Arizona's law "too far out."
Scott has not commented on McCollum's proposal, but the Herald said other Republicans were divided on the issue.
"I am concerned that this could jeopardize civil liberties," said state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a Republican of Cuban descent.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida promised to fight the measure if it becomes law.
"It is un-American and against our American values to mandate that police officers use racial profiling when they are performing their day to day duties," ACLU spokesman Brendon Hensler told the newspaper.