Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17