Friday, April 27, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: The best chance to reform immigration

The immigration bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee has passed with bipartisan support and sent to the full Senate still faces many hurdles. But the legislation's broad goals of bringing nearly all of the 11 million illegal immigrants out of the shadows while strengthening the border and the U.S. economy remain intact. While imperfect, this is the nation's best chance in a generation to fix its broken immigration system. Republican senators such as Florida's Marco Rubio need to keep educating their colleagues and constituents about the bill's provisions and keep broadening support.

The bill is the nation's most ambitious effort yet to control its borders in a bid to win support from conservatives. It throws too much money and resources toward controlling a flow of illegal immigration that has trended downward for years, but that is the pragmatic trade-off for a path to citizenship. The legislation calls for spending $6.5 billion on new fencing and surveillance, thousands of extra customs agents and additional checkpoints along the border. The security plans would have to be in place before the clock started on legalizing the status of undocumented immigrants.

The Judiciary Committee worked in a bipartisan fashion to fight off amendments aimed at killing the bill or making it an empty promise. The 10-year timetable for lawful permanent residency and the three additional years for citizenship are still too long but better than no path to legal status at all. The fines, which could reach $2,000 and must be paid for immigrants to remain in the pipeline, should be reduced but are not ridiculous. And the decision by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the committee chairman, to hold off on his proposal to allow citizens to sponsor same-sex partners for permanent residency was prudent. Discrimination against gays serves no national interest and has no place in American policy. But the provision would turn away Republicans, particularly in the House. The issue needs to be addressed, but it should not be allowed to kill the broader bill.

Rubio has worked hard to sell the bill he helped draft to other conservatives, and the measure that came out of the Judiciary Committee gives him even more to sell. The bill includes tough triggers and new reporting requirements to ensure the nation is on track to harden the border. It calls for new techniques, including the use of biometrics technology, to track immigrants and includes money to speed up the prosecution of illegal border crossings. The bill also would help meet demand for foreign workers in both the high-tech and service industries, while protecting American jobs. It would force employers for the first time to verify that they are hiring lawful immigrants. And it would crack down on those who overstay their visas or who game the system by seeking to enter the United States as political prisoners or refugees.

House Republicans such as Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor, Richard Nugent of Brooksville and C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores should follow Rubio's lead and embrace the bill for what it would do — improve security, help meet the nation's labor needs, turn millions of new workers into taxpayers and bring order to the immigration system. These are the practical benefits that led even conservatives such as Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch to vote for the bill in committee. This bill is not amnesty for illegal immigrants, and it moves no one to the front of the line for citizenship.

As the full Senate takes up the immigration legislation next month, senators and the public should keep their eye on the big picture. This is the best opportunity to pass comprehensive reform in a generation, and a better opportunity may not come around for another generation.

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Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

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...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

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