If ever a campaign promise deserved to be broken it was Gov. Rick Scott's 2010 pledge to impose an Arizona-style immigration law on Florida. After a failed attempt in 2011 to force Florida businesses to use a federal-style E-Verify system to check workers' immigration status, the illegal immigration issue has fallen off Tallahassee's radar. And this week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down several elements of the draconian Arizona law provides Scott political cover to pursue a more pragmatic and humane approach in dealing with Florida immigration issues.
PolitiFact Florida, the fact-checking site of the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald, recently gave Scott two "promises broken" ratings for his reversal on both E-Verify and the Arizona immigration law. Some supporters expressed anger. But it appears that Scott, who was new to politics when he ran for governor, is learning that while reckless rhetoric on the hustings may appease narrow-minded special interests, leading a diverse state of nearly 19 million people requires responsible governance in word and deed.
Arizona's flawed immigration law has been vilified for its thinly veiled racial profiling and has damaged the state's business climate. The governor, who also campaigned on creating jobs, apparently realized the state doesn't need that sort of self-inflicted economic wound. While some Scott supporters may be disappointed, in walking back his campaign promise Scott is better serving all Floridians.