Last week, Rick Perry, who is the governor of Texas and a Republican Party presidential candidate, issued strong statements on immigration in Florida that resonated among immigration enforcement-only policy supporters in the Florida Legislature. The Florida Tea Party movement say they will accept nothing short of requiring every employer to check the immigration status of their workers through the federal E-Verify program when legislators convene in the regular session in January. Yet after the agricultural and business groups came out to voice their disapproval for the same legislative leaders who last year promised Arizona-style immigration reform, it appears they are now barely offering tentative support for it. The Miami Herald published in an article that the “House Speaker Dean Cannon, whose chamber proposed but never passed an Arizona-style immigration enforcement plan last year, said that immigration reform may take a back seat to balancing the budget, reapportionment and strengthening the economy.” Despite the more moderate stance some legislators have decided to take on immigration, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolis (R-Merrit Island) said with utter confidence that his chamber would pass the same immigration bill it passed in the 2011 session. Similarly, Gov. Rick Scott has said that an immigration enforcement bill “will happen this session.” According toNumbers USA -an organization that claims to want “lower immigration levels”-Perry’s less-than-desired results in the Florida straw poll are due to his weak stance on immigration enforcement. The group writes that “Texas Gov. Rick Perry is proving that appearing to be more concerned about illegal-alien workers than about unemployed Americans doesn’t work in Republican primaries.” According to Immigration Daily , an immigration law publisher, “during the Republican presidential debate in Florida, Governor Rick Perry’s stance on immigration landed him in second in the straw poll. The issue that cost him a large number of supporters was his support for the Texas bill that made Texas the first state to let illegal immigrant children pay in-state college tuition.” Nevertheless, The Daily adds that despite this position on college tuition, Perry “opposes the DREAM Act , opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, and has spent ten years and $400 million securing Texas’ border from illegal immigration.” The Immigration Policy Center adds to the debate, stating that Perry’s Republican opponents “mischaracterize in-state tuition for unauthorized immigrants, claiming that it comes at the expense of native-born students.” In an effort to expose this common misconception, the Policy Center argues that “providing in-state tuition is the government’s recognition that kids who have already been educated in the state should be able to complete that education.” In other words, instead of categorizing Gov. Perry’s initiative to help his state in the long-term by encouraging education and making it accessible to greater amounts of its population as a success worth noting, this legislative achievement-as it should have been regarded-works to his disadvantage within his Party base since it does not quite fit with the Party’s rhetoric. As nonsensical as this sounds in and of itself, the reaction it mustered in Florida should be carefully examined and acknowledged even, for it would be a mistake for our legislators to choose to consciously take the wrong side on this issue just because they are being pressured from within Party lines. If immigration law were to be reintroduced in the next Congressional session-which is likely at this point-lawmakers should vote on the issue as their constituents would want them to and not because their party is pressuring them to vote a certain way.
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