Florida Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander wants to get an Arizona-style immigration bill passed this session. Rick Scott campaigned on it. The tea party is demanding it, and J.D. is nothing if not accommodating. But since the Senator is also a blueberry farmer, well … he’s got to have somebody to pick the crops …
And therein lies J.D.’s dilemma:
Sen. JD Alexander, the Senate budget chief now handling a controversial immigration crackdown proposal, told reporters Friday that he uses the federal government’s e-Verify system.
A citrus grower, Alexander said he turns prospective employees away if they don’t clear the system. But he did not give e-Verify a ringing endorsement. “It takes a while to really know the answer,” he said. “It has the potential of being wrong.”
“It’s a fair amount of cost,” he added — about $20 per person that doesn’t match. “It’s fairly expensive.”
… The budget chief’s concerns echoed those of the state’s powerful agricultural industry, which has resoundedly opposed SB 2040. So have big business, Disney, some local and law enforcement officials and immigration advocates.
Alexander said he has still not figured out what to do with the bill, which Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, yanked from Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami.
It sure is a problem. I mean who … who, I say … is going to pick J.D.’s scrumptious blueberries??? When you’ve got a blueberry issue, it turns out you become a lot more sympathetic to so-called “illegals…”
“My personal struggle with E-Verify is that many of these folks have been here for decades for good or for bad,” he said.
In “a perfect world” the federal government would control the borders but instead has given tacit permission for illegal workers to remain in the country, Alexander said.
“It seems challenging to suddenly ask them to not be able to be here. I personally believe we need a federal guest program to allow for some sort of normalization of these folks status where they can be protected by our laws without fear of deportation,” he said. “Because some of these things have been going on for so long, I’m personally troubled by the broad net that could be cast.”
Alexander said he’s having a hard time balancing his duties as budget chief and agricultural baron as he tries to get his blueberry crop harvested.
“I’m probably short about 100 people to get my blueberries picked,” he said, adding that he and other blueberry farmers can find less than half the workers they need to get their crops in.
“For all the unemployment there just aren’t folks who want to pick blueberries,” he said.
You’ll recall that J.D. and Anitere Flores were the two Republicans who got the feds called on them by a wacky tea party guy named Geoff Ross — an avid Marco Rubio supporter last fall, btw, apparently unaware of Rubio’s impurity on the whole immigration thing — who charged that Alexander and Flores were caught talking to “non-English speaking Hispanics,” which as you know, is a crime in Tea Party America (ahem
[See the response of the Florida Immigrant Coalition to Ross, and his counter-response here.]
Wonder what Field Marshall Ross will think of Alexander’s sympathy for the kind of people he’s short on to pick his blueberry crop.