Monday, June 25, 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: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18

Editorial: Florida needs to explain its own price gouging

In the wake of Hurricane Irma last fall, Attorney General Pam Bondi vowed to scour Florida to prevent businesses from exploiting consumers by price gouging. It turns out she could have just looked down the hall in the state capitol. Based on reportin...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18