A new poll reveals Floridians are strongly opposed to President Barack Obamas administration suing Arizona for its measures of cracking down on illegal immigration -- and want a similar law in Florida.
The Rasmussen Reports' poll of 500 likely voters across Florida found that 60 percent opposed the Obama administrations legal challenge to Arizona, while 28 percent backed the lawsuit and 12 percent were undecided.
Both health-care executive Rick Scott and Attorney General Bill McCollum, the two leading Republican gubernatorial candidates, took Obama to task last week after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the lawsuit.
President Obama proves yet again that he is not serious about dealing with the problem of illegal immigration, said Scott. He would rather punish law-abiding citizens for enforcing the law than deal with the illegal immigrants who are breaking the law.
As a result of the federal governments failure to secure our borders, states like Arizona have had no choice but to take matters into their own hands and pass legislation to protect their residents and communities, said McCollum.
The poll also found that Floridians want a similar measure to the one that passed in Arizona, with 62 percent favoring that type of legislation, 24 percent opposing and 14 percent remaining undecided.
Thats good news for a host of Republicans in the Legislature looking to pass tougher laws on illegal immigration. On Monday, Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa, who is running for a seat in the state Senate, said he would try to introduce an Arizona-style immigration law. Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, and Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, are looking to introduce a similar measure in 2011. Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, has also been pushing an Arizona-style law for 2011.
These legislators could receive a boost if either of the two leading Republican gubernatorial candidates win in November.
When I am governor, I will bring the Arizona law to Florida. Until I can help make that possible, we need to stand with Arizona in their case against the Obama administration, said Scott on Friday.
Scott also said he favors tackling immigration during the special session.
Taxpayers are on the hook to pay for the special session, Floridians should at least get some return on their investment with the passage of meaningful legislation and that is why I am urging the Legislature to pass an Arizona-style immigration law during this special session, said Scott on the campaign trail Monday.
McCollum also said that, if elected, he will crack down on illegal immigration.
As governor, I will continue to enhance the authority of Floridas law enforcement officers and provide them with the resources necessary to crack down on illegal immigration and protect Floridas communities, said McCollum.
While a majority of Floridians support the Arizona law, a number of prominent Sunshine State politicians from both parties expressed strong reservations to it.
"I strongly oppose the recent immigration law in Arizona and will fight attempts to implement similar laws in Florida, said U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek earlier in the month, who is running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate nomination. We need comprehensive immigration reform, not philosophy driven policies and patchwork solutions. The Department of Justice did the right thing in fighting this law."
"The Arizona law is neither fair nor practical, insisted Meek. It encourages police to question people who have done nothing wrong, and it does a disservice to people in this country who are employed, paying their taxes and are good citizens of their communities.
Meek is not alone in opposing the law -- with several prominent Florida Republicans in agreement. Former Gov. Jeb Bush came out against the Arizona measure in a telephone interview with Politico back in April.
One Florida Republican in Congress who spoke out against the Arizona laws was U.S. Rep. Connie Mack. Theres no question that our nations immigration policies are in dire straits, said Mack back in April. We all agree that inaction by both the Bush and the Obama administrations has compounded this problem and forced states like Arizona to take drastic measures."
But the Arizona law strikes a severe blow to freedom and the principles that make our nation strong, said Mack. This law of frontier justice where law enforcement officials are required to stop anyone based on reasonable suspicion' that they may be in the country illegally is reminiscent of a time during World War II when the Gestapo in Germany stopped people on the street and asked for their papers without probable cause. It shouldnt be against the law to not have proof of citizenship on you.
The Rasmussen poll was conducted on July 6 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com, or at (850) 727-0859.