Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum on Wednesday proposed legislation that would toughen law enforcement measures against illegal immigrants in the melting-pot southeastern U.S. state.
The proposal by Mr. McCollum, who is engaged in a tough election race as a Republican candidate for the state governorship, was certain to thrust Florida into the sensitive immigration debate that has become a hot political issue ahead of mid-term Congressional elections on Nov. 2.
"Florida will not be a sanctuary state for illegal aliens," Mr. McCollum, who was accompanied by state Representative Will Synder, said in a statement that also gave details of the proposed law.
The legislation would require law enforcement officials to check a suspected illegal immigrant's status in the course of a stop, or a violation of another law.
This goes beyond the existing situation in the state where officers are allowed to check for immigration status, but not required to.
Florida, especially its southern portion, is a major U.S. migration destination for nationals from the Caribbean and Latin America, making it a cultural and racial melting-pot.
Mr. McCollum's office said the proposed Florida immigration legislation goes "one step further" than a similar law recently introduced in Arizona, which has triggered protests and a constitutional challenge from President Barack Obama's administration.
"I think Arizona is going to want this law," Mr. McCollum said at the event in Orlando presenting the legislation.
His office said it would go further than the Arizona law by giving judges and law enforcement officers more tools in dealing with illegal immigrants, from bond rulings through to sentencing.
It was also strengthened against potential constitutional challenges, it added.
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