Tim Elfrink at Miami New Times (full disclosure: I work for the paper) reports that the law drafted by Florida state representative William Snyder, and supported by GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, includes a clause that "Even if an officer has 'reasonable suspicions' over a person's immigration status … a person will be ‘presumed to be legally in the United States’ if he or she provides ‘a Canadian passport’ or a passport from any 'visa waiver country.'" Elfrink points out that aside from four Asian countries, all other visa waiver countries are located in Western Europe.
What the…? Yep, that’s right. The Florida law in a nutshell: If you’re a white non-Hispanic, you’re presumed to be in the country legally and don’t need to show any proof. If you belong in the “all others” category, better carry your papers.
Of course, there’s an explanation for such blatant racism, as Snyder told a radio host: "What we're doing there is trying to be sensitive to Canadians. We have an enormous amount of ... Canadians wintering here in Florida … That language is comfort language."
Ah, yes tons of Canadians wintering here in Florida … along with MILLIONS of South Americans. In the biggest tourism destination in the state, Miami, people from South America comprise 52% of the visitors alone. That’s not even counting tourists from Central America and the Caribbean. These are people with plenty of disposable income, and plenty of tourism options. If Florida became a state suspicious of Latinos, they would just take their billions of dollars elsewhere. For a state whose economy relies so heavily on tourism, especially from Latin America, you’d think politicians would be a little bit more worried about making everyone feel comfortable. But that’s what makes it obvious this little clause isn’t about tourism at all. It’s about using every thin veil and pretense possible to try to legalize racial profiling.
Representative Bill Snyder and wannabe governor Rick Scott, you might want to cover up. Your xenophobia is showing.