National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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Common Sense Prevails in Florida, Will Congress Follow?

May 09, 2011

Federal Government Must Act on Comprehensive Immigration Reform


 


Washington D.C. – Last week, an anti-immigrant bill similar to Arizona’s died in the Florida House of Representatives. The defeat follows strong advocacy against the measure from local and national immigration advocates.     The bill died just four days before President Obama is scheduled to give a speech in El Paso, Texas to revive comprehensive immigration reform legislation.  The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:


 


“Friday was a victory for Florida’s economy, businesses, tourists, and immigrants. Florida’s heritage as a state welcoming to immigrants and visitors from around the world has been preserved.


 


Courageous leaders of both parties in the Florida House and Senate said no to a bill that would have done great damage to the state’s recovering economy and hindered key Florida industries. We commend them, especially Senator Alexander, for refusing to bow to political expediency or eager party leaders hoping to pass a harsh anti-immigrant bill.  As Chair of the Budget Committee and the designated Republican quarterback of the anti-immigrant bill, it took great political courage for him to stand up and say the bill was bad for growers and bad for Florida agriculture. He did the right thing and voted no.


 


Few deserve more credit in stopping the legislation than the Florida business community, particularly the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Association of Manufacturers, key Florida agricultural leaders, and the Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. For business leadership to stand with Florida’s faith and immigrant community against this legislation bodes well for future efforts. The Obama administration has taken note of the prominent role business leaders have played in pushing back against Arizona style legislation in states. The President convened key business leaders a few weeks ago for a meeting at the White House, and is expected that he will acknowledge business leadership on immigration at a speech he will give tomorrow in El Paso. For comprehensive immigration reform to have a real chance of passage in Congress, it will need the support of the business community.


 


It already has vast support from the American public. Recent polling from Pew Research Center finds overwhelming support - 72%-24% - for a path to legal citizenship for the undocumented.  As usual, Congress needs to catch up to the American people.


 


The President’s speech is timely. While cooler heads prevailed in Florida, too many legislatures have passed extreme anti-immigrant measures similar to Arizona’s. Americans are left wondering: how many states must step into the political vacuum created by federal inaction before Congress acts on comprehensive immigration reform? As Arizona can attest, no state can solve the problem on their own, and we cannot have a fifty state patchwork of immigration laws. The Congress and the President must act immediately to solve this problem once and for all. “


 

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