Friday, June 22, 2018
Politics

Immigration one of the few sticking points in GOP platform

TAMPA — Immigration is one of the toughest issues for the Republican Party to navigate.

Getting tough on undocumented workers appeals to the party's sizable law-and-order contingent. Yet easing the borders so that workers from other countries can perform low-wage or high-tech jobs is popular with the party's business-minded members.

These two sides clashed this week as more than 100 delegates met at the Marriott Waterside to draft the Republican platform, a document that sets general policy guidelines for the party as it heads into its national convention next week. Immigration is such a contentious issue that it provided one of the few visible signs of discord during the writing of the platform, which was approved as a draft Tuesday night and will be voted on next week by convention delegates.

For the first time ever, the GOP included a line that acknowledged the potential value of a new guest worker program, which was heavily lobbied by Brad Bailey, a Texas restaurateur.

"This is a major deal," said Bailey. "The tide has turned. The current system is 110 percent broken. What this shows is that instead of screaming about the problem with rhetoric and retaliatory comments, we are addressing the problem."

Although the platform doesn't define what type of guest worker program be adopted, Bailey said its inclusion signifies the party will support a system that gives employers greater flexibility in hiring laborers from outside the country. He said current rules make it difficult.

Yet Bailey couldn't stop efforts by Kris Kobach, a conservative attorney from Kansas who helped write controversial immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama. On Monday, Kobach convinced delegates to keep the term "illegal alien" in the platform.

"Illegal alien is the correct term to use," Kobach said. "Now there are some politically correct terms that people like to use, but I made the point that platform should be legally precise."

But that term made other delegates bristle, such as Audra Strickland of California, who preferred the term "illegal immigrant."

"It speaks to the tone of the document," Strickland said. "It's important to have that compassionate tone."

Kobach successfully amended the platform Tuesday so that it included other provisions, such as requiring businesses to use E-Verify, an Internet program run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to check worker eligibility, ending funding for in-state tuition for the children of undocumented workers and completing the financing of a border fence.

"There's a false assumption that reaching out to Hispanic voters means favoring the breakdown of law," Kobach said. "A large number of Latino citizens are among the most vigorous proponents of the rule of law."

But Bailey said Kobach's words will damage the long-term prospects for Republicans.

"It damages the Republican brand if Kobach gets his words in the platform," Bailey said. "The vocal minority is winning on this."

Times staff researcher John Martin contributed to this story.

Comments
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Published: 06/19/18