State Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami (Pic by Meredith Geddings)
State Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami (Pic by Meredith Geddings)

Hispanic Republican group rejects immigration-enforcement bill being heard today

By | 04.04.11 | 8:11 am

Dee Dee Garcia, president of Somos Republicans, told The Florida Independent her group does not support immigration-enforcement-only measures in Florida. The Florida Senate Judiciary committee will discuss the GOP’s immigration bill S.B. 2040 today.

A Somos press release issued Friday states:

SOMOS REPUBLICANS, the largest conservative Hispanic grassroots organization is a leader in advocating pro growth, pro business and pro immigrant ideas. We are not in support of SB 2040, an E-Verificiation Bill which is supported by Florida State Senator Anitere Flores.

We believe that small businesses are the economic engine of the United States, therefore, state lawmakers should support the views of the United States Chamber of Commerce and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce with regard to their views against E-Verify programs and enforcement only initiatives. Florida businesses employ many undocumented immigrants, especially with low skilled jobs in the agriculture, hospitality, landscaping and construction industries.

“We are based in Arizona and have watched what enforcement only initiatives have done to destroy our economy, ” Garcia told the Florida Independent,  “and we don’t want to see that happen Florida.”

“Yuma, Ariz., is the lettuce capital of the nation during the winter,” Garcia said. “Forty percent of the lettuce did not get picked this year because we ran our competitive labor off, and as a result we have had to import lettuce from other countries.”

Garcia added that without fixing the broken immigration system, mandating the E-Verify program is not a reasonable solution.

In previous statement Somos Republicans said:

We are particularly disappointed in Senator Anitere Flores for showing her incompetence for introducing an Arizona-style anti-immigrant law. We believe she is wasting tax payer monies and resources by using Committees and the Senate floor to serve as a type of show room.

According to Somos, this statement prompted a letter from Flores, R-Miami, that calls Somos comments uncertain, disingenuous and irresponsible.

The letter from Flores also said that as a member of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, she has been opposed to the Arizona immigration law from day one.

Flores’ letter added:

The Legislation that I have proposed neither vilifies immigrants nor denies anyone due process. In fact, it puts all the onus on employers. As I have said many times, SB 2040 is a work in progress. Rather than criticize, I invite you to work on making it the best bill possible.

The Independent contacted Flores’ office to get her comments on this exchange with Somos Republicans, but she did not respond.

Garcia told the Independent that Somos embraces older Cuban Republicans like Mel Martinez and Lincoln Diaz-Ballart. “It seems we are coming out with a new breed of Republicans who don’t seem to be as sympathetic,” she added.

Garcia concluded that it doesn’t make sense for Republicans to support measures that business chambers are against.

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