Opposition from Republicans seems to be growing for the immigration enforcement bill proposed in Florida, with one state senator saying it was created for “racist reasons.” According to Think Progress, there is an absence of widespread Republican support for Arizona SB 1070-type bills. Even former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has expressed concern in the past that his Mexican-American wife and their children “might look awfully suspicious to police” if they were in Phoenix, did not mention the SB 1070 law during the Hispanic Leadership Network Conference held last week in Coral Gables. Addressing Rep. Snyder’s and Sen. Bennett’s bill, state Senator from Miami, Anitere Flores, said: “the biggest problem with that bill was the reason that it came about was for, in my opinion and the opinion of several others, for racist reasons, to be very blunt. And that’s the biggest issue that I have with it.” Despite rejecting the new measure, she did, however, acknowledge the state’s frustration of its growing illegal immigration and its procedurally limited ability to enforce federal immigration laws. “Number one, there’s very little the state governments can do. And number two, the immigrant population, both legal and illegal, offer so much to this country and particularly to our state here, that we cannot give even the perception that we are a state that is not welcome to Hispanics.” She then went on to quell concerns over the legislature passing the bill into law by adding, “[w]e’re not going to do that in the Senate and so I guess if we’re not going to do it in the Senate, it’s not going to happen in the state.”
Another congressman to join the ranks of the opposition was state Rep. Steve Bovo (R-Miami) who told The Florida Independent that he would not support any bill that would lead Florida down the path of a police state. At this conference it appeared that there was a general support for a broad reform of the immigration system, with a means to legalize the nation’s 11 million undocumented people. Some of the organizers of this new event included former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, both of whom are leading Republican voices for a comprehensive immigration overhaul. Unfortunately, though, given the overwhelming majority of the political party’s stance on the issue, these GOP leader’s sympathetic and immigrant-friendly views are the exception- not the rule. The dominant wing in the Republican Party has embraced an enforcement-first, no-legalization-under-any-circumstances position in recent years- a drift that the organizers of this conference say has hampered the party’s outreach to Hispanics.
Be that as it may, we applaud these-and all other- Republican leaders for not jumping on the deportation bandwagon and for voicing out their opinions for a comprehensive approach to immigration. It is our hope that they rally further legislative support to sink Rep. Snyder and Sen. Bennett’s bill before it goes any further.