Florida conservatives call on U.S. House to back immigration reform

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Conservatives are calling for Florida’s congressional delegation to back comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Joining the effort to push the House members to address the issue before the August recess are American Conservative Union chair Al Cardenas, Ed Moore of the Florida Center-Right Coalition, Justin Sayfie, a former communications director for Gov. Jeb Bush and Brewster Bevis, senior vice president of Associated Industries of Florida.

In a conference call on Wednesday, the group decided Florida’s political climate is ready for immigration reform.

There is “a total dissipation of some of the toxic atmosphere that perhaps had been felt a year or two ago.” said Cardenas, a former Republican Party of Florida chair. He drew attention to two bills recently passed by the Florida Legislature; one allowing in-state tuition for undocumented immigrant students, and another permitting an undocumented immigrant attorney admission to The Florida Bar.

However, the group stopped just short of calling for a “pathway to citizenship.”

“Many of those people, I believe, probably don’t want to become citizens,” Bevis said, “but they really are here working now … They are contributing to our economy. They are contributing to Florida’s business needs.”

The group then urged the GOP to support a measure by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a leading Republican advocate of immigration reform. Diaz-Balart warns House Republicans could force President Obama to use executive action to address the problem if they did not act soon.

“The challenge has been the undocumented,” said Cardenas. “But I believe everybody’s hard at work at coming up with a right response — a response that may not include a path to citizenship — but a response which will be well received by the undocumented and by the Hispanic leadership and the Democratic Party.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.