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Mike Fernandez, others oppose Florida ‘E-Verify’ system

Billionaire GOP contributor Mike Fernandez and nearly 70 other business and political leaders are objecting to a proposed constitutional amendment to require employers to verify their workers’ immigration status and employment eligibility.

Fernandez, a health care entrepreneur who also chairs the Immigration Partnership and Coalition Fund (IMPAC Fund), sent a letter Tuesday to members of Florida Constitution Revision Commission in opposition to Proposal 29 (P29).

It would create “a new section in … the State Constitution to prohibit unauthorized aliens from working in the state and to require the Legislature, by a specified date, to establish an employment eligibility verification process.”

The idea is backed by Commissioner Rich Newsome, an attorney appointed by GOP House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

The amendment would mandate a system similar to “E-Verify,” a federal “Internet-based system that compares information from an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility.”

The proposal “would be devastating and costly to Floridian businesses and workers,” says the letter, signed by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Angel Ferrer, Managing Director of Citi Private Bank, among others. “Moreover, constitutionally requiring reliance on a yet to be created and untested process would open the door to discriminatory practices by employers that would harm vulnerable communities.”

The idea “is nothing more than an attempt to constitutionally mandate E-Verify by another name, and it suffers from all the same deficiencies,” the letter says. “Any newly created system would undoubtedly be subject to the same types of mismatches and errors that are all too common with E-Verify, and most government databases.”

The proposal is one of 24 now under review by the commission’s Style & Drafting Committee, which meets again this week in Tallahassee to continue work on ballot summaries and amendment groupings.

The full text of the letter and list of signatories, which includes former Clearwater GOP state Sen. Jack Latvala, follows:

__

Dear Members of the Constitutional Revision Commission,

We, the undersigned business leaders of our state, stand in solidarity with the Immigration Partnership and Coalition (IMPAC) Fund in our opposition to Proposal 29.

Proposal 29 would place a requirement in the Florida Constitution that all Florida employers, under threat of significant penalties, use a substitute E-Verify process that has yet to be created to verify immigration status and employment eligibility of all employees.  Additionally, Proposal 29 would place in our state’s Constitution a requirement that all Florida businesses be subject to random audits, mandating penalties for employers found to be noncompliant.

We ask that you Vote No on Proposal 29.  The Proposal would be devastating and costly to Floridian businesses and workers.  Moreover, constitutionally requiring reliance on a yet to be created and untested process would open the door to discriminatory practices by employers that would harm vulnerable communities.

Proposal 29 is nothing more than an attempt to constitutionally mandate E-Verify by another name, and it suffers from all the same deficiencies.  Any newly created system would undoubtedly be subject to the same types of mismatches and errors that are all too common with E-Verify, and most government databases. According to a study by the conservative/libertarian think-tank Cato Institute, funded in no small part by David and Charles Koch, from 2006 to 2016, legal workers had roughly 580,000 jobs held up due to E-Verify errors, and of these, roughly 130,000 jobs were lost entirely due to E-Verify mistakes.

The cost to employers posed by Proposal 29 could be astronomical.  Paul Dimare, CEO of DiMare Distribution, known as “Mr. Tomato,” noted that imposing E-Verify (or a similar) system in Florida will cause a short-term labor shortage that will leave crops rotting and un-harvested. DiMare has said that, “E-verify will destroy our state’s economy.  It will shut agriculture down, the second largest industry in our state.”

​As Bob Dickinson, ​Retired CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines has said, “Proposal 29 is anti-jobs.  It would impose unacceptable burdens on Florida’s businesses and workers.  It is bad for our tourism industry and creates disincentives for businesses to be in our state.”

We ask that YOU VOTE NO on Proposal 29 because this provision is not only ineffective, it will hurt our workers and harm the Florida economy.

Signed,

Michael Fernandez, Chairman, MBF Healthcare Partners

Bob Dickinson, Retired CEO, Carnival Cruise Lines

Leonard Abess, Chairman, ThinkLAB Ventures

Cesar Alvarez, Senior Chairman, Greenberg Traurig

Marivel Andreu, Managing Director, Celedinas Insurance

Tony Argiz, President and CEO, Morrison, Brown, Argiz and Farra

Daisy Baez, Executive Director, Dominican Health Care Association of Florida

Steven Bandel, Retired Co-Chair and CEO, Cisneros Group of Companies

Jose Bared, Chairman, Farm Stores and Gardeners Supermarket

Rodney Barreto, Chairman, Barreto Group

Joseph Berardo Jr. CEO, Concordia Care, Inc.

Mark Blank, Director, Miami Children’s Hospital

Martin Burkett, Co-Chair, Mergers & Acquisitions and Private Equity Practice, Akerman LLP

Vicky Camero, Director, Program Management Medicaid Regulatory Services, Simply Healthcare Plans

Al R. Cardenas, Senior Partner, Squire Patton Boggs

Mario Cartaya, CEO, Cartaya and Associates, PA

Rudy Cecchi, President, Rudy Cecchi and Associates

Ambassador Paul L. Cejas, Chairman and CEO, PLC Investments

Ramon Cernuda, Owner, Cernuda Arte

Dr. Barbara R. Cowley, Medical Director, Simply Healthcare Plans

Antonio de la Guardia, Owner, TRESART

Mayi de la Vega, Founder and CEO, One Sotheby’s Realty

Manny Diaz, Senior Partner, Lydecker Diaz, Former Mayor of Miami

Edward W. Easton, Founder, Chairman and CEO, The Easton Group

Tomas Erban, Director, Central Baptist Hospital Foundation

Angel Ferrer, Managing Director, Citi Private Bank

Michael “Mike” B. Fernandez, Chairman, MBF Healthcare Partners

Victor Giorgini, President and CEO, Equiflor

Felice Gorordo, Global Director, StartUp Health

Nelson Guerra, Senior Accountant, MBF Healthcare Partners

Dr. Jerry Haar, Clinical Professor, Department of Management and International Business, Florida International University, College of Business

Tino Herran, CEO and President, Sedano’s

Heather Hitzemann

Al Hoffman Jr., Founder, Hoffman Partners

Teddy Klinghoffer, Partner, Akerman LLP

Bill Kunkler, Executive Vice President, CC Industries

Jack Latvala, Former Florida State Senator

Iliana Lavastidea Rodriguez, Managing Editor, Diario las Americas

David Lawrence Jr., Chair, The Children’s Movement

Thomas Liberti, Senior Consultant, Clear Health Alliance

Maria Lopez Alvarez, Vice-President and Co-Director, Univision

Modesto Maidique, Former President, Florida International University

Manuel D. Medina, Founder and Managing Partner, Medina Capital

Dr. Enrique Murciano, Anesthesiologist, South Miami Pain Center

Bob Ontiveros, Chairman and Founder, Group O

Alexander Penelas, Former Mayor of Miami-Dade County

Sergio Pino, President and Founder, Century Homebuilders Group, LLC

Nestor Plana, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Independent Living Systems

Earl W. Powell, Founding Partner, Chairman Emeritus, Trivest Partners

Jose R. Rodriguez, Partner In-Charge Audit Committee Institute, KPMG LLP

Ray Rodriguez, President, Dorlom Construction

Felix Sabates, Partner, Chip Ganassi Racing

Carlos Saladrigas, Co-Founder and CEO, Regis HR

Federico Sanchez, Senior Vice President – Wealth Advisor, UBS Financial Services

Guy Sansone, Managing Director, Alvarez and Marsal

Brian Siegal, Regional Director, Miami and Broward County, AJC

Sharon Socol, Author and Photographer

Eugene E. Stearns, Chairman, Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson

Ronald G. Stone, President, The Comprehensive Companies

Mayor Francis Suarez, City of Miami

Dr. Robert Thomas, Medical Direector, Coral Gables Executive Physicians

Dr. Marta Torroella-Kouri, Associate Professor, Cancer Researcher

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Hector Tunidor Jr., Senior Global Client Service Partner, Ernst and Young

Darlene Williams, Equestrian Artist

Ed Williamson II, Chairman and CEO, Williamson Auto Group

Written By

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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