Despite pressure, Rep. Dennis Ross remains opposed to pathway for immigrants
Despite pressure from immigration reform activists, Rep. Dennis Ross remains opposed to a pathway to citizenship. But the Lakeland Republican says he is open to changes.
“Immigration is an issue that is going to be on the forefront. I am not a supporter of a pathway to citizenship. We have a pathway to citizenship today," Ross told the Brandon Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, according to a Creative Loafing report.
Ross, whose district is heavily agricultural, has been targeted this summer by immigration groups as part of a broad national effort to convince the GOP-controlled House to pass a comprehensive bill. In July, for example, a group marched from his office to his home, chanting in Spanish, "When? Now," and "Remember November."
Ross on Thursday said the current system "is clogged because our system is broken. We have over 40% of the people that are here illegally here on expired visas. We know when they come across, we don't know when they leave, we don't know when they expire. That is a fault of the system. We have students at USF and other universities that come here and we invest in their education and they now must go back because they're not here on extended stays. We have agricultural communities that can't find the labor pool, we have small businesses who come over here and invest and start companies on expired visas. We need to look at our entire visa program, our entire guest worker program, strengthen our border security, have a program that is in correlation with a strong labor pool and put it in place.”
Immigration activists have focused on Ross and other Republican members of the Florida delegation, hoping to get them to embrace a pathway. Rep. Dan Webster of Orlando did that recently, though with several caveats.