Mitch Perry Report 4.18.14: GOP's mixed signals on immigration continue


Two days ago we reported on Kathy Castor's comments that she doesn't believe congressional Republicans will do anything regarding immigration reform for years to come. Her frustration is evident from the lack of response in the House to the Senate's passage of comprehensive immigration reform last summer  (you remember that — the legislation Marco Rubio was for, before he was against it?).

But today we get a report in the Wall Street Journal that says House Speaker John Boehner and other top Republicans in the House are telling donors and industry groups that they aim to pass immigration legislation this year, "despite the reluctance of many Republicans to tackle the divisive issue before the November elections."

Wait. What?

According to the report, Boehner said last month that he was "hellbent on getting this done this year." But then comes this line: "A spokesman for Mr. Boehner didn't dispute the account but said no action is possible until President Barack Obama proves himself a trustworthy partner to Repulicans." You mean he still has a chance to turn some Republicans around on this? Really? 

In any event, the story also says that South Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart is drafting legislation that would give "qualifying" undocumented immigrants legal status and the chance to apply for citizenship through legal challenges — and that he has to have it ready by June or July. 

Obviously this is a party at war with itself on such crucial legislation. That division is playing out in Tallahassee as well, where state Senator Joe Negron, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has effectively killed the Jack Latvala-sponsored bill that would provide in-state tuition rates to undocumented Florida high school students at Florida state colleges and universities. Negron said in a statement that he couldn't justify using Florida tax dollars to defray the cost of tuition for students whose parents had not entered the country legally. It's a blow not only to all of the students who might have benefited from reduced rates, but to the aims of Latvala, House Speaker Will Weatherford and even Governor Scott, who all endorsed the plan. 

Some cynics called the support of some of these Republicans purely political, particularly in Scott's case. There have been a few too many instances of him not standing up for Latinos, who continue to grow in importance in statewide elections. 

In other news… We hope to speak to Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist today to figure out why he finds it necessary to honor Southern Heritage month at the County Commission, a proclamation lobbied for by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

You don't often see Polk/Hillsborough Congressman Dennis Ross on prime time cable, but there he was the other night, 24 hours after he told an Arby's employee that he didn't support that worker getting a raise via an increase in the minimum wage.

Dipa Shah is one of a slew of candidates running for the District 6 Hillsborough County School board, and check out our report on the social-justice group FAST's event last week at Tropicana Field.

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