Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: On immigration reform, go beyond the border

As Washington postures and a former Florida governor enters the fray, the reality of dysfunctional U.S. immigration policy continues to play out in communities like Animas, N.M., and El Paso, Texas. The experiences there underscore that border security alone will never be enough. President Barack Obama and a bipartisan group of senators, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, need to continue to push for a comprehensive and rational immigration policy that also deals with the 11 million illegal immigrants already here.

Security at the border between the United States and Mexico is far from perfect. The motivated and the ingenious still find ways to cross illegally, and many bring contraband. But there are far fewer of them, due to a near doubling of investment on border security since 2005 to $11.7 billion. As the Tampa Bay Times' Alex Leary reported last week, increased enforcement now nets just one-third the illegal immigrants it did in 2000. Residents of border areas have seen the impact, including a decrease in crime. But 18-foot barricades now divide what were once cross-border communities. Local American businesses lament the loss of Mexican customers and the difficulty moving goods across the border. And there's less available labor. There's been a social toll as well, with an untold number of families divided. One young man who earned good money helping to build the fence in 2007 told Leary, "Let's move on to other immigration issues."

Unfortunately, that's proving difficult, even after anti-immigrant rhetoric from Republicans undermined their election results in 2012. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, long a voice of reason among Republicans when it comes to immigration policy, has joined the fray. But he has become less helpful at the very moment when he could do the most good. His latest book, Immigration Wars, suggests a less generous position toward illegal immigrants than he has championed in the past. He now says he favors a path to permanent legal residency but not necessarily citizenship, sounding less like a leader on this issue than a politician weighing his options.

In Washington, there is still the need to pander to those who insist that the country must "first secure the border" even as the progress there has been so obvious. Congress should focus on what else needs to be done. As Leary reported, 40 percent of illegal immigrants now in the country entered legally but ignored the deadline to go home.

The right ideas are in play, including creating a probation period for illegal immigrants to come forward, pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a background check as a first step toward citizenship. Younger immigrants brought to the country by their parents would have an easier path. There are also plans to increase requirements on employers to ensure they are hiring only legal immigrants.

More than a quarter-century after President Ronald Reagan signed the country's last comprehensive reform on immigration, its time to do more than just secure the border.

Comments

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18