Florida Dems want Crist and Rubio to weigh in on Arizona immigration law

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Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano –who herself punted on immigration as governor of Arizona – called the new law “misguided” during an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“That one is a misguided law,” she said. “It's not a good law enforcement law. It's not a good law in any number of reasons. But beyond that, what it illustrates is that other states now will feel compelled to do things. And you will have this patchwork of laws where we need a federal immigration system that meets our security needs, that recognizes where we need to go in this 21st century and gives us a better framework on which to stand.”

Though there's been some talk on Capitol Hill in the past few days, there is still no word yet on when Senator Harry Reid would begin serious discussions on a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

As we reported in our current piece in CL, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told Reid (and perhaps Barack Obama) that she will not begin discussions or debate on a House version until after the Senate begins the process.

The Florida Democratic Party, cognizant of the potential political advantages that the new policy on immigration signed last week into law by Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer, are now challenging the U.S. Senate Republican candidates to weigh in on the issue.  A press release sent out Monday afternoon by party spokesman Eric Jotkoff asks:

With the debate on immigration reform ignited due to a misguided measure signed into law recently in Arizona, candidates across the country have been coming forth to state their opposition to or support for the measure.  The state of Florida has always served as an epicenter of our country's debate on immigration reform, and given this, Republican Senate candidates Speaker Marco Rubio and Gov. Charlie Crist should tell voters if they support or oppose the Arizona immigration measure."

The issue has a way of paralyzing Republicans, particularly in an election year.  Since Charlie Crist seemingly is no longer in need to placate conservative interests, one would presume he would speak out against it.  Marco Rubio has talked tough on immigration during the campaign, but some of his critics say he wasn't tough on the issue back when he was House Speaker.

The Democratic candidate for Senate, Kendrick Meek, commented earlier in the day on the controversial proposal, which he blasted:

"We need common sense immigration reform. The kind of measure signed into law in Arizona last week is neither fair nor practical. It encourages police to question people who have done nothing wrong, and it does a disservice to people in this country who are employed, paying their taxes and are good citizens of their communities. That is not fair. As a former Trooper in the Florida Highway Patrol, I know laws like these will also hamper law enforcement efforts and make it harder to find people who will speak out as witnesses to crimes. This law is impractical and will not make anyone safer.  While new immigration laws should be tough, they should be enforceable and not driven by a philosophical agenda."

Although the sentiment is not universal in Democratic party ranks to revive discussions on immigration, for others, the Arizona bill - which would allow police officers to question and detain someone in the southwestern border state they believe may be an illegal immigrant, even if they are not suspected of committing another crime.

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