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E-Verify battle heating up for 2020 session

Several versions of E-Verify are being drafted by lawmakers.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton, during a special session of the Florida Legislature in June 2017.
Sen. Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton, during a special session of the Florida Legislature in June 2017. (AP photo by Mark Wallheiser)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Requiring employers to verify the immigration status of potential hires has been a political hot potato in Florida for the last decade. And it’s about to become one of the most divisive issues of the 2020 legislative session.

Governor Ron DeSantis chose the conservative Villages when he announced his support for requiring employers to use E-Verify.

“We’re really the only state, Florida, in the entire Southeast that doesn’t use E-Verify,” said DeSantis.

Kiyan and Bobby Michael were present at the Governor’s announcement.

They have been fighting for immigration reform since their son Brandon was hit and killed in 2007 by a driver who was here illegally.

“We’re speaking out because we don’t want other Angel parents. We care about our nation. We care about our innocent citizens,” said Kiyan.

Several versions of E-Verify are being drafted by lawmakers.

Opponents are waiting to see exactly what that legislation looks like.

Since the push for E-Verify began in 2010, two of the state’s biggest industries, agriculture and tourism have been opponents.

“Look at the unemployment rate today. I mean, I’ve got hotels that have got twenty-plus housekeeping or other positions that are open that they can not fill,” said Dover.

The powerhouses have another powerful ally — Senate President Bill Galvano.

“I think we have to take these concerns seriously. About the additional obligations placed on the private employers and private citizens,” said Galvano.

Now the Governor must decide how much political capital he wants to spend on what has always been a divisive issue.

At least one version of E-Verify will be introduced by the House and Senate, sponsors of last session’s ban on Sanctuary Cities.