Monday, May 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Rubio's moment on immigration reform

Momentum keeps building for significant immigration reform. Business and labor groups have agreed on the outlines of a new visa program for guest workers in low-skill jobs, and a bipartisan group of senators is days away from introducing legislation to fill in the details on a comprehensive overhaul. Soon Floridians will see whether Republican Sen. Marco Rubio will continue to help build a consensus for compromise on immigration or cave under pressure from the most conservative wing of his party.

The agreement on a new visa program between long-fighting special interests illustrates that the art of compromise is not dead and that the time is ripe for immigration reform. Businesses would get a rising number of additional visas for guest workers in low-skill jobs, although not the 400,000 they wanted. Unions received some protection in wages for those workers, although not to the level they have previously sought. But workers also would have the ability to change jobs and seek green cards, important provisions that would prevent them from being held hostage by their initial employers. The details will have to be analyzed, but the framework represents reasonable middle ground and could benefit Florida, with its high number of low-skilled hotel and construction workers.

More disconcerting are Rubio's mixed signals. Instead of celebrating the compromise between business and labor a week ago, Rubio tried to temper expectations and warned that the issue may be moving too quickly. Late last week, his office again sounded less than enthusiastic about reform in responding to a meaningless Republican "analysis" that claimed reform that creates a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants could cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. That is a scare tactic, because any real analysis will have to wait for the specific legislation.

At the moment, Rubio is walking a fine line in trying to be supportive of reform without alienating the most conservative Republicans who helped him get elected. But many of those conservatives are unlikely to support legislation that would create a path to citizenship. Eventually, Rubio will have to choose between being part of the solution or remaining a darling of the tea party crowd that has torn apart the Republican Party and was rejected by more pragmatic voters in last year's election.

The framework of the bipartisan Senate proposal remains promising. It would create a probation period for illegal immigrants who come forward, pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a background check. There would be an opportunity for citizenship for those who follow the rules. But there also are requirements that security be enhanced along the border and that illegal immigrants go to the back of the line for green cards. All of these requirements are aimed at satisfying conservatives, but they should not throw up so many roadblocks that citizenship is impossible to attain.

When the immigration legislation is introduced, the real work starts on fine-tuning the details. And it will become clearer whether Rubio will rise to the occasion and be a leader in developing a consensus.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the stateís 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondiís lawsuit against the nationís largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the stateís battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestraís violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestraís violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice theyíve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondiís lawsuit against the nationís largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the stateís battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Childrenís should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Childrenís should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Childrenís Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institutionís lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburgís 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUDís flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUDís flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18