Will GOP fissure on immigration hurt in 2012?

Part of that bill would require that businesses use the federal E-Verify system to determine the legal status of their employees. But Alexanander, a farm and citrus grower, said the system was flawed and too expensive for businesses.

In announcing some of his legislative priorities for 2012, Governor Rick Scott has said he wants to revive the idea of getting some sort of illegal immigration legislation passed.

Meanwhile, the National Journal's Beth Reinhard reports that GOP superstar Jeb Bush supports Perry's supporting tuition breaks for children of illegal immigrants. The former Florida governor says that "I think that is a fair policy."

Bush you might recall also attempted to pass legislation back in 2004 to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. The bill didn't get thru the Legislature.

However, by 2007-2008, seemingly anything to do positively for undocumented immigrants was considered heretical, even among Democrats, or do you forget when Hillary Clinton was aggressively questioned by the late Tim Russert if she agreed with then Governor Eliot Spitzer's idea on allowing undocumented people drivers licenses?

Latino advocates, especially conservatives, always say that the Hispanic vote is not fixated on the issue of illegal immigration, and that's generally right, as that demographic's agenda is the same as every other American group, with the same concerns about the economy, education, health care and the like.

But it's the rhetoric - frequently ugly - that's a turn off. As Mario Lopez of the non-partisan Hispanic Leadership Fund tells Reinhard:

“Going after kids who have not committed any crime of their own volition and have earned their way into college could be disastrous for Republicans. Some folks still don’t get it .The left has done a great job of making Republicans look awful on this issue, and unfortunately some candidates have taken the bait.’’

Latinos are the biggest growing ethnic bloc of voters in the country, and will continue to be for decades to come. You might call it the "browning" of America. Republicans needn't be so harsh even if they believe that enforcing the border is the only answer right now to the immigration problem, but it is a problem, and the laws created in Arizona, Alabama and others that are heavy on the punitive side aren't addressing the larger issue of comprehensive reform.

For decades, the Republican Party has had a schizophrenic attitude towards illegal immigration.

The "Wall Street Journal Republicans" are those that don't demonize undocumented immigrants, because they find that using such workers enables certain businesses to function and thrive. That appellation derives from the fact that the Wall Street Journal editorial page itself is in this camp.

Another pro-business legislator that speaks that language is Polk County Republican state Senator J.D. Alexander, who late in this year's legislative session was assigned by Senate President Mike Haridopolos to shepherd home a bill on illegal immigration.

Instead, because of his objections to E-Verify, he helped blow it up.

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