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Topical Breezes
Following the Currents that Guide Florida's Future
Will the tough-on-immigrant rhetoric of the primary remain with us through the November elections?
Frank Bentayou
Immigration policies were a major theme during the state's recent Republican presidential primary. Candidates argued between strictly enforcing hard-line laws -- rounding up and deporting foreign workers here illegally -- and creating opportunities for some undocumented workers and kids to gain rights afforded citizens, even become citizens themselves. The risks to candidates: alienating Florida's many Hispanics or the GOP's right wing. The pressure mostly pushed candidates to talk tough about strong exclusionary laws. Now, with the primary behind us, how forcefully will the immigration debate continue between now and November?
John Tripodi

The public dialogue is, absolutely, going to continue. A substantial part of the electorate in Florida is Hispanic, and candidates have to address this issue in their campaigns. Candidates should talk about immigration whether they are strongly pro-immigration or think we already have too many immigrants here, because it affects all our daily lives.
The United States Citizen’s and Immigration Service (USCIS)  has proposed a temporary solution to some issues. It’s called Prosecutorial Discretion with regard to immigration cases. We have a lot of people in the immigration process who are criminals. United States Government officials work to locate those people and deport them.
However, for those people who do not have documents or legal standing and have been here several years as law-abiding residents, maybe officials use their “prosecutorial discretion” and stop short of prosecuting, allowing them the freedom to stay in the country.  An example would be undocumented aliens driving without licenses.They may be fined but not placed in the immigration system from which they could be deported.
This is a federal initiative that has been kicking around, and there are test cities across the country where they’re looking at the results and trying to see whether this is an answer. It will not be a complete answer to the question of how we deal with immigration in the long term, but at least for now it can relieve the justice and immigration systems, which in many places are overwhelmed with the volume of cases.
Denver is one of the test cities, and it has some 8,000 people right now in the system, all risking deportation. The courts, though, just cannot cope with numbers like those. They’re completely overburdened. If they can use sensible discretion over matters -- like which of these cases we should prosecute to the full extent of the law -- that would help. Others, they perhaps could fine and propose minor penalties without the risk of deportation. That would allow the immigration process to work more fluidly and on the most serious of cases, which actually assists the states’ criminal justice systems.
In Alabama, the legislature passed a law tightening immigration enforcement. The big farmers and companies that hire undocumented workers have just said, “We cannot afford to risk bankruptcy because of an overly burdensome law. Alabama workers will simply move to another state." In fact, there has been a  big exodus of immigrant workers from Alabama in recent months.
That’s an issue here in Florida, as in other crop-growing states. If we did not have people to work in agricultural jobs for much lower wages, the price of crops would rise dramatically, putting a financial strain on consumers and the entire economy. It is my belief that people should  immigrate to this country in the proper way. However, it is well recognized that there are between 11 and 19 million undocumented aliens in the country today. We cannot change the past, and many of these people are productive members of our society.
It is in the best interest of the country to give people the right to make a living. Some of these workers have been here for 10 or 15 years. Some pay taxes but do not have Social Security cards, so they’re paying and not getting the same return as citizens. It’s a matter of fairness as well as our economic interests.

Chris Ingram
President, 411 Communications, Republican Political Consultant

Heated rhetoric filled the Republican presidential primary in Florida about immigration issues. I’m not sure who the candidates were trying to appeal to, but they have to remember that they’re going to need Hispanic voters to win Florida in November. Republican candidates should avoid embracing that kind of rhetoric. In fact, immigration is an issue Republican candidates at the state and national level should avoid; it just isn’t a winning issue for us in November.
Someone running for local office in Pensacola or Ocala or wherever, depending on the sentiment there, might use stronger language to address immigration. But Florida is too diverse to do that statewide. Local candidates can be much stronger on conservative hard-line issues, but a statewide candidate ought to be very careful. What sells in Pensacola doesn’t necessarily sell in Miami.
The fact is, the enforcement of immigration law is complex here and across the country. Solving illegal immigration problems is not something you can fix with a bumper sticker slogan. You can’t just say, “Send them home.” It’s far more complicated. 
There’s the question of whether illegal immigrants take jobs from American citizens or do other economic harm to the country. The short answer is, yes, they do. That said, you have to look deeper. How many jobs? And what are those jobs? How much do they benefit the economy? And why are these things occurring? Then you need to consider Florida's agricultural industry, which employs many undocumented workers. There are lots of jobs that American citizens simply will not do out in the fields. Even if you could get people besides immigrant workers to perform these jobs, consumers would end up paying eleven bucks for a head of lettuce.
Besides, Hispanic people here legally could be hurt by aggressive enforcement. We have to look on the human side of the debate. Are they going to go out and round up Hispanic grandmas to find out if they’re citizens? Are you going to ship them off if they aren’t? You would create an entire class of future voters who hate you forever. The simplified image some people have of illegal immigration is the guy swimming across the Rio Grande, or running across the Arizona desert at night to steal cars, having 10 kids, clogging our emergency rooms and being a drain on our welfare system. That’s not the reality.
You can certainly find real examples like that, but it’s not the norm. They pay taxes; they work hard; they want a better life. We must realize these people are human beings like the Irish immigrants and countless others of the past. I think it’s sensible for Republican candidates not to let immigration rhetoric get out of hand. Certainly not in Florida.

Tirso Moreno
General Coordinator in Apopka of the Farmworker Association of Florida

If the candidates were saying those kinds of things in the primary, I don’t see why they will be changing for the November election. Why are they going to change? And even if they change what they say, we already know what they mean. They have said it already.

And what they have said is affecting our people. It’s affecting the public image of the immigrants. And not only the immigrants, but all of us who look like the immigrants. There are stereotypes people already have that the campaign comments only make stronger.  

There’s already discrimination against our people. We already suffer from the names we have. They don’t sound like the names people think of as American. Here’s a foreign name, they might think right away, and, so, here’s a bad person. 

 I could tell many stories about my four kids and eight grandkids -- I have one born only days ago and another just two months old -- all of them born here. My daughter, who is 35, speaks English like you. You can’t tell she’s Hispanic. When she called about a rental house, they said everything’s fine. But when she told them her name was Blanca Garcia, that was the end. They couldn’t make a deal. But that’s been true for years, hasn’t it?

The farmworkers I work with, whether they have documents or not, aren’t hurting the economy. They’re helping. The economy benefits from them. They take jobs that are not being taken, the jobs that don’t give fair pay and have no benefits. Corporate farming and the whole corporate food industry take  advantage of cheap labor. 

When people do jobs that others won’t do, they help create more jobs in the economy and create profit for others. That benefits the whole society. We’re not going to find enough documented workers who will do the kinds of jobs where you have to get up at 4 in the morning and work hard all day. You probably don’t want to do that, unless, maybe, you have a vocation for it.

What people hear from politicians is not the whole story. It's mostly from one side only, and, so, opinion is divided. Today, we have access to all kinds of information, but, still, people believe what they want to. There are those who think that because I am who I am, I should not have access to the same things they do.

David Caulkett
Founder and VP, Floridians for Immigration Enforcement

There appears no solution on the horizon to the U.S. immigration controversy, and the liberal lame-stream media are thwarting resolution.  While others are also to blame, it has been the liberally biased media outlets, mainly newspapers, that promote, with missionary zeal, any whisper of discontent of the non-enforcement immigration advocates who substantially ignore citizens concerns, negative impacts of mass immigration and U.S. law.

What is needed is an open, honest discussion from a citizen-centric perspective, not from the perspective of illegal aliens, businesses or special interest groups.  The often ignored citizens are victims as well, with higher taxes, loss of jobs, overcrowded schools, huge emergency health-care costs, etc.  Yet the liberal lame-stream media view the issue mainly as a cultural/racial issue and publish an endless stream of illegal alien sob stories but few to none on the plight of unemployed citizens and the dreams of citizen students who can’t afford college.

An honest discourse should be based on honest words, not on politically correct contrived terms to avoid that darn obstacle called the law. The political rhetoric may seem harsh because the media standard is the wrong standard.  Many newspapers adhere to the Hispanic journalist standard, which bans use of the proper common legal term, “illegal alien.”  Indeed, isn’t it wrong for media to adhere to a special interest standard that conflicts with U.S. law?

Many newspapers prior to this year’s Florida presidential primary published an avalanche of “liberal friendly advice” articles alleging Mitt Romney will lose the Hispanic vote and not win the election with his “harsh, anti-immigrant” positions.  Yet, it was Romney, taking a harder line on immigration issues than Gingrich, who won the Hispanic vote by a 54 to 29 percent margin over Gingrich.

Joining the liberal chorus to hush up those uppity citizens concerned with illegal immigration was Jeb Bush who repeats his admonishment on  supposed anti-Hispanic rhetoric by saying, “Hispanic people hear these debates, and I think you turn them off. It's not a good thing."   Bush’s often repeated admonishment to tone down the rhetoric or Republicans will lose Hispanic voters is demeaning and patronizing to citizens who want the laws enforced.

The truth is that Republicans who talk about a strong pro-enforcement immigration position can and will win.  Rick Scott who aggressively supported AZ1070, Rick Perry who lost after promoting his DREAM Act support, and Gingrich who tanked in Florida on his pro-amnesty support are examples.

Voters have had enough of the patronizing and demeaning cries to tone down the rhetoric because they don’t buy the liberal lame-stream media’s special interest politically correct standards.  Resolving the issue means the liberal lame-stream media and others that need to change by fostering a citizen-centric open debate using proper honest terms, devoid of their liberal racial/cultural obsession.

by Dr. Radut.