Over the weekend, Stanley B. Greenberg published an op-ed in The New York Times explaining what Democrats can do to regain their strength through wide-ranging support. Among the suggested measures was for them to pass comprehensive immigration reform, showing that the Party is an advocate for the control of the borders while also addressing the problems surrounding undocumented workers. In advocating comprehensive immigration reform, they would be demonstrating that they consider responsibility to be a primary value. The surveys performed by Mr. Greenberg, which formed the basis of his op-ed, show that voters want comprehensive immigration reform rather than half measures. They would like to see strong enforcement at the border and in the workplace, and the expulsion of troublesome undocumented immigrants. While favoring toughness, they also evidently want to find ways to put undocumented workers on a path to citizenship.
In theory, the same convergence of interests that beat back an Arizona-style crackdown in Florida – visible, persistent protests by progressives and immigration activists, coupled with behind-the-scenes lobbying by business and agricultural interests – could get behind a comprehensive measure at the federal level (though perhaps not exactly as Greenberg describes). For his part, Gov. Rick Scott downplayed the idea that he saw immigration as a high priority for the upcoming legislative session when he invited Tallahassee reporters into his office for an “open house.” The state’s finances, as well as various insurance-related issues, seemed to weigh more heavily on his mind. He said he was disappointed that an immigration measure didn’t reach his desk this year, but noted a bill could face even more political headwinds next year, with an election looming.
He also seemed to take a more nuanced stance on the issue than he has in the past, saying he was concerned about the impact a tough enforcement measure could have on businesses, and that an ultimate solution has to come from the federal government. Still, he said he supported a solution that sounded like the federal-local cooperation of the 287(g) program since in his view people who break the law should have their immigration status checked out by law enforcement. What exactly it means to break the law is something that still needs to be worked out, he said.