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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

As immigration debate begins again, absence of Mel Martinez is noted



Martinez Agree with him or not, former Sen. Mel Martinez was a leader in the immigration debate. But he quit Congress before sweeping policy changes came to pass. Now the debate has begun anew and some in Washington have noticed his absence.

"Only a couple of years ago, negotiations over a huge reform bill brought in Republican senators like John McCain, Mel Martinez, Sam Brownback, Jon Kyl and Mr. (Lindsey) Graham," the New York Times wrote in an editorial Saturday. "That list has withered away. Some are gone from the Senate; others are just gone."

Martinez's advocacy for immigration reform in 2006 and 2007 brought scorn from conservatives who abhorred the idea of amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the country. On the other hand, he was lauded by others as taking a decisive stand toward reform.

Graham is working with Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer on a new bill but prospects are shaky with other Republicans not eager to jump on a proposal. George LeMieux, appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to fill out the final 16 months of Martinez's term, is being closely watched by immigration reform advocates to see where he will side.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:28pm]


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