Not long ago we lauded U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for his role in pushing through a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform package through the Senate. That bill will go nowhere, though, unless the U.S. House of Representatives takes up reform and produces a measure that can be reconciled with the Senate bill.
It’s time for Florida’s congressional delegation to take the lead and help deliver reform that affects not only the state’s millions of documented and undocumented immigrants, but the communities and businesses where they live and work. The timing is right, too. A trio of national conservative groups called on House Speaker John Boehner to get to work on a reform bill. A bipartisan group of church leaders based in Palm Beach County, Florida Voices for Immigration Reform, has been writing letters to Florida congressmen, urging them to support an immigration overhaul.
“We support an immigration reform package that reflects the economic contributions that immigrants make to our country,” read the letter to Boehner from the chiefs of the American Action Forum, Americans for Tax Reform and the American Conservative Union.
ACU Chairman Al Cardenas is the former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, the first Hispanic to hold that post, and a influential Washington lobbyist. The FVIR letters targeted Reps. Daniel Webster of Winter Haven and Bill Young of Seminole. We would add Reps. Vern Buchanan and Tom Rooney to the list of Florida Republicans who should enlist in this effort. Both represent districts heavily dependent on immigrant workers that play such a big role in the agriculture, construction and tourism businesses.
We understand the politics of immigration make backing reform — any reform of any kind that isn’t limited to building electrified fences and sending every undocumented alien back home — risky business. Political analysts have declared immigration reform in the House DOA, largely because House Republicans would rather employ reform as an election issue than solve the real issues involving border security, labor force and documentation. The House ploy is to break down the Senate bill into separate pieces and pass elements — border security is the buzzword — that will satisfy their base.
Buchanan and Rooney have toed the tea party line on immigration. Most recently they voted with anti-immigration reformers on a symbolic bill that would have prohibited enforcement of President Barack Obama’s executive order that would end the deportation of young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The bill was never voted on in the Senate and would have faced an Obama veto. Like the House’s 37 repeals of the Affordable Care Act, the immigration bill was show vote.
Buchanan and Rooney have told us repeatedly that they abhor Washington’s divisive politics that prevents action of the country’s most pressing issues. When push comes to shove, though, they cast safe votes that guarantee the D.C. stalemate will remain the status quo.