Saturday, January 20, 2018
Business

Immigration reform has support in Florida

Florida voters, particularly in immigrant-rich pockets of South and Central Florida, overwhelmingly say they support comprehensive immigration reform that would give people living in the state illegally a pathway to citizenship, according to a new Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll.

Across the state, 66 percent of voters support immigration reform that allows people living in the United States without legal status to stay and apply for citizenship. Another 28 percent oppose it, and 6 percent are undecided.

"Most voters here support some sort of way to solve the problem," said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, the nonpartisan, Jacksonville-based company that conducted the poll for the Florida media organizations.

Florida voters also favor President Barack Obama's recent move to protect some younger illegal immigrants — the so-called DREAM Act kids — from being deported. They back the plan 53 to 42 percent, with 5 percent of potential voters undecided.

Joe Marcos, 50, an electrical contractor from Miami, says the administration should toughen the border against illegal immigration and supports deporting immigrants who have committed crimes.

But Marcos, a longtime Republican voter who is originally from Cuba, opposes deporting young people who were brought into the country illegally by their parents. They deserve a chance to stay, he said in a followup interview to the poll.

"If a kid is brought here by his parents, I just don't think it's right to deport them," Marcos said. "It's just not right. We need laws to help those kids and their parents to stay in the country."

Albert Sensley, 79, a retired Army intelligence officer from North Port who has lived in Florida since 1994, said he supports strong borders. But Sensley, an independent voter, says he likes the president's recent move to allow young people to stay. Shaping his views: his wife's family is from Honduras.

"There's no reason to punish people who are already here," Sensley said. "A lot of them were born here. If they were fortunate enough to get in this country, they're here. Some of the best Americans we have are people who come over to this country."

Coker said that support for the president's action, while broad, may be muted by the way Obama did it. The administration's directive bypassed Congress, which has failed to muster the votes to pass the DREAM Act. It allows young illegal immigrants who were raised in the United States to remain for two years under a deferred deportation. Unlike the proposed DREAM Act supported by Democrats, the administrative action does not provide a path to citizenship for the young people.

Other national polls have also shown wide support for allowing young people to stay in the United States — only underscoring how Obama has taken the lead over Republicans on an issue that is seen as a measure of respect for the wider Hispanic community.

Both Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are actively seeking Hispanic voters, and although Obama leads Romney among those voters in most polls, he must shore up his support among Latino voters to win in November. Romney doesn't need to outright win over Hispanic voters, but he does need to peel away enough of the critical voting bloc to compete in the swing states of Florida, Nevada and Colorado.

A poll conducted by Latino Decisions in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia found that Hispanic voters were more enthusiastic about Obama after his announcement about DREAM Act-eligible young people. That marked an important change, since some Hispanic voters have been disheartened by the Obama administration's aggressive deportation policies toward other undocumented immigrants.

The politics of immigration in Florida are often more nuanced because most Hispanic voters in the state are Cuban-Americans or Puerto Ricans. Most Cuban immigrants came to the country legally; Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.

"I don't think it's the hot, hot issue that some people think it is because they don't really understand Florida versus Arizona versus Texas," Coker said. "Most Hispanics that come here come here on an airplane — or maybe a boat, a big boat. They're not sneaking across the Rio Grande or trying to walk across the desert to get here. They pretty much come in, they're welcomed and they assimilate very quickly. I don't think you've got that hostility that you might have in Arizona where illegal immigrants are being associated with crime and drugs and all kinds of other negative things."

The Mason-Dixon poll also found Florida voters support giving police the right to check the citizenship of people who are stopped for a violation or who have committed a crime, the subject of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision based on a challenge to an Arizona law. It had support from 53 percent of voters; 40 percent opposed it and 7 percent were undecided.

One exception: Doris Del Toro, 52, an independent, Cuban-American voter who owns a small business in Miami.

"We don't need Arizona-like immigration laws here in Florida," she said. "This is the land of liberty. It's about human rights. I don't want to see that kind of treatment toward immigrants in Florida."

The telephone survey of 800 registered Florida voters — all likely to vote in the November general election — was conducted July 9-11 for the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.

Times/Herald staff writers Sergio Bustos, Katie Sanders and Michael Van Sickler contributed to this report.

Comments
Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

The state has opened an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, days after the Tampa Bay Times asked about whether the two regional job centers were inflating the number of people they had helped get hired. The agencies, ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

TAMPA — You could sketch an economic history of the city of Tampa — and maybe get a glimpse of its future — just by looking at the old J. Seidenberg & Co./Havana-American Cigar Factory.It opened in 1894, making it Ybor City’s second-oldest brick ciga...
Published: 01/19/18

Want to buy into an exchanged-traded bitcoin fund? You might have a long wait

NEW YORK — It may be a while, if ever, before investors can buy an exchange-traded fund made up of bitcoin and other digital currencies. Federal regulators have a long list of questions they want answered before they’ll approve a digital currency fun...
Published: 01/19/18
Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

A Georgia mother has gone viral for charging her 5-year-old "rent." Yup — the kid pays up for food, water, cable and electric, too.Essense Evans described in a Facebook post how she handles her daughter’s allowance. The post, written on Saturday, was...
Published: 01/19/18

Addicted to your smartphone? Now there’s an app for that

Did you text? Sorry, I can’t see messages right now. Arianna Huffington locked my phone.The media tycoon turned wellness entrepreneur wants to keep you out of your phone, too, with a new app called Thrive. Its goal is to make it cool for a generation...
Published: 01/19/18
Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

ST. PETERSBURG — Tony Jannus’s history-making flight in an early seaplane — simultaneously as ungainly and graceful as a pelican on the wing — is what Mayor Rick Kriseman calls an "under-told and under-appreciated" story, but a team of local history ...
Published: 01/19/18
Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest hope for transportation in the Tampa Bay area is a bus rapid transit system projected to cover the 41-miles separating St. Petersburg from Wesley Chapel and attract 4,500 new riders at a fraction of the cost of light rail....
Published: 01/19/18
Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

ST. PETERSBURG — Transportation planners on Friday unveiled a new transit vision for Tampa Bay leaders on Friday morning: Bus rapid transit.Also known as BRT, it has arisen as the leading option in an ongoing study to find the best regional transit p...
Published: 01/19/18
Amazon boosts monthly Prime membership fees by 20 percent

Amazon boosts monthly Prime membership fees by 20 percent

NEW YORK — Amazon is raising the price of its Prime membership monthly plan by nearly 20 percent. The fee of $99 for an annual membership will not change, the company said Friday. The online retailer had added the monthly payment option about two yea...
Published: 01/19/18
Cuba’s tourism is booming despite Trump’s tougher policy

Cuba’s tourism is booming despite Trump’s tougher policy

HAVANA — On a sweltering early summer afternoon in Miami’s Little Havana, President Donald Trump told a cheering Cuban-American crowd that he was rolling back some of Barack Obama’s opening to Cuba in order to starve the island’s military-run economy...
Published: 01/19/18