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.
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
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