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Floridians seek mandatory E-Verify system through referendum

12 Jun

If John Oliver has his way, the state of Florida will adopt a new E-Verify system that will ensure the enforcement of immigration laws and hold lawmakers accountable to the citizens while helping to protect jobs. In an exclusive interview with Sunday, Oliver said his group, Floridians for E-Verify Now, is working to get a referendum on the 2016 ballot that, if passed, will amend the state constitution to do just that.

Oliver said the state already has such a system, but employers are not required to use it. Worse yet, he said, legislative leaders have blocked 30 bills dealing with illegal immigration and a 2010 effort to mandate E-Verify failed in the state legislature. But now, he said, “we have something we can do.”

Oliver’s group is currently collecting signatures to get the measure on the ballot. Getting a referendum on the Florida ballot isn’t easy, he said. Over 683,000 petitions are needed by December 31, 2015. The first hurdle, the group said on Twitter, is to collect 68,000 petitions from seven districts in the state by July 1. That, he said, would trigger an automatic review of the proposed measure by the State Supreme Court. Some of the foremost attorneys in the area of immigration have looked at it and said it should pass muster, he told Examiner. Oliver also said it will cost about $80,000 get all the required signatures validated.

So far, he said, 25 volunteers across the state have signed up to help collect signatures, but more are needed. According to Oliver, it’s “not a hard sell, based on Gallup polls.” Even if the measure makes it to the ballot, Oliver said, it will require 60 percent of the vote to pass.

If the measure passes, it will amend the Florida Constitution to require all Florida employers who hold business licenses to “verify the employment eligibility of all new employees through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify system” beginning July 1 of the year following passage, according to the group’s website. “The Department of Business and Professional Regulation shall administer this amendment through regulations, random audits, investigations of complaints, and enforcement actions. Authorizes penalties for violations of this amendment,” the site adds.

It also gives citizens standing to sue the state in court if it is not followed. “In the event the Department does not issue regulations within the time limits set forth in this section, any Florida citizen shall have standing to seek judicial relief to compel compliance with the Department’s constitutional duties,” the text of the amendment says.

“With our citizens initiative to mandate E-Verify, the CITIZENS of Florida will lead the way by enforcing immigration law WITHOUT the involvement of the legislators!” the group’s Facebook page says. If passed, the organization said on Twitter, the law — based on a similar law in South Carolina that Oliver says has a 92 percent success rate — will “be the strongest E-verify law in the country!”