Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Keep up momentum on immigration reform

With broad bipartisan support, the Senate approved sweeping legislation Thursday that would significantly benefit Florida and finally create a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. Sen. Marco Rubio deserves credit for helping negotiate reforms and build a coalition of reasonable Republicans and Democrats, but the work is far from finished. The road will be even tougher in the more conservative House, and supporters have to keep up the pressure for comprehensive reform.

The 68-32 vote sent a strong message about the merits of the Senate bill, even if it is far from perfect. The path to citizenship would take more than a decade and should be shorter. The strict requirements along the way, from learning English to paying fines and back taxes, may be too difficult for many illegal immigrants to clear. The $46 billion for strengthening the border to win over more conservative senators is too high, and the requirements for border security goals to be met before permanent resident green cards are obtained may be a prescription for failure.

Yet the legislation offers a far smarter way forward than the status quo, and it reflects what can be accomplished by building consensus in an era where Washington has been paralyzed by partisan gridlock. The Senate bill acknowledges the reality that 11 million illegal immigrants are not going to be returned to their home countries. It also recognizes that many of them already are quietly working in Florida fields and businesses, attending public schools and living peacefully in our communities.

Undocumented immigrants would not be the only beneficiaries of the Senate bill. So would large segments of Florida's economy. Labor and business groups agreed on a provision to create up to 200,000 guest visas annually for low-skilled immigrants like those who work in Florida's tourism industry. The number of visas for high-skilled foreign workers also would be increased. And a new agricultural guest worker program would benefit Florida agriculture, where informed estimates suggest the overwhelming number of field workers are illegal immigrants.

In his closing remarks before the Senate vote, Rubio acknowledged that the immigration issue ''has been a real trial for me" and that it angered many conservatives who helped elect him. But he recounted his family's move from Cuba to Florida in search of work and a better life, and he talked of the "miracle of America,'' of the impact immigrants have on the nation and the impact the nation has on immigrants. "I support this reform,'' the Florida Republican concluded, "not just because I believe in immigrants, but because I believe in America even more.''

Convincing the House Republicans to embrace that optimistic vision will be difficult. House Speaker John Boehner has no control over the most conservative Republicans and no appetite for building a coalition of Democrats and mainstream Republicans like the Senate did to pass immigration legislation. It will be up to President Barack Obama and Republicans like Rubio to build public pressure, change the speaker's mind and force a House vote on comprehensive immigration reform that could pass with bipartisan support.

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Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Donít fall for Constitution Revision Commissionís tricks

Editorial: Donít fall for Constitution Revision Commissionís tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the stateís fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the November b...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region wonít make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Floridaís citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nationís health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

St. Petersburg city officials are exploring how to cut down on single-use plastic straws, a commendable effort to make the city even more environmentally minded. But to succeed, City Council members should craft a modest, reasonable restriction that ...
Published: 04/10/18