Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: U.S. ill-served by patchwork immigration law

In Florida on Monday, Gov. Rick Scott announced he has signed into law the legislation that will allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at colleges and universities. In Washington, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that immigrant children who have waited with their parents for years to get visas have to go to the back of the line when they turn 21. This is just a snapshot of the patchwork mess created by the failure of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Scott did not exactly champion the new law that will enable thousands of undocumented high school students to have a better shot at attending college by paying in-state tuition. He embraced it only because lawmakers such as House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, made it a priority and Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, included it in legislation with other caps on tuition increases that the governor wanted. That gave Scott cover to brag about lowering all tuition costs without mentioning the some 175,000 undocumented immigrants who could benefit.

Regardless, this is a smart move for Florida. Taxpayers already have invested in these young people by underwriting their public education. Helping them afford college should enable them to grow into adults who will be able to find better-paying jobs and contribute to their adopted home. Republicans such as Weatherford and Latvala deserve credit for seeing the bigger picture and pushing it through the Legislature. It would also make sense to enable these undocumented immigrants to get drivers' licenses rather than risk driving illegally, but Scott vetoed that change last year.

Just as unreasonable is Monday's 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to force immigrant children to start over in their wait for a visa when they turn 21. Only a limited few can keep their spot in line, and advocacy groups say forcing the rest to go to the back of the line when they age out lengthens their wait by more than nine years. Letting them remain in their place on the waiting lists, they say, would lengthen the wait for others by a few months. This is exactly the kind of nonsensical situation that Congress could resolve by approving comprehensive immigration reform.

And it's not the only one. The Obama administration continues to aggressively deport the very sorts of illegal immigrants who have been working and who would be eligible to remain here legally under comprehensive reform. Yet last month the president ordered a delay in making recommendations to change the deportation system to give Congress more time to reach a consensus on immigration legislation. Another unintended consequence of congressional gridlock: A surge of children are illegally crossing the Mexican border into Texas and being taken to overburdened facilities in Arizona.

Congress is responsible for this piecemeal approach to immigration, which is not healthy for the nation and not fair to the millions of undocumented immigrants whose lives hang in the balance. The Senate last year approved comprehensive legislation that offers a long path to citizenship and addresses issues such as guest visas for low-skilled immigrants, visas for highly skilled workers and a new agricultural guest worker program — all important issues to Florida. The House should stop stalling, bring the bill up for a vote and pass it.

Comments
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesdayís special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Updated: 5 hours ago
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