Why are lawmakers pushing an immigration-enforcement measure that may draw a constitutional challenge, over the objections of business groups, immigrants and their advocates? One reason is that voters appear to support it, as a new poll by Suffolk University shows.
The poll finds that most Florida voters (52 percent) support an Arizona-style immigration crackdown, while 33 percent oppose the measure.
Whites and Republicans are the strongest supporters of the bill. Black voters oppose it more than two to one, making them one of the strongest centers of opposition. Hispanics and Democrats also oppose the measure. Independent voters support the measure by about the same margins as the population as a whole.
The poll underscores the balancing act faced by state Republicans, particularly those from areas of South Florida with high Hispanic populations, like Anitere Flores of Miami, who is carrying the immigration measure in the Florida Senate.
After Easter, the Senate is set to take up its immigration measure, which is less harsh and less likely to draw a constitutional challenge than the House bill, which is ready for a vote on the floor. The measures have been drawing opposition from a growing number of legislative Republicans.
Sen. Rene Garcia, the Hialeah Republican who leads the Hispanic caucus in the legislature, said this week that he opposes the House version, which he said poses “a significant threat to individual freedom,” and still has concerns about the Senate bill, which he said “offers some reasonable solutions to the perceived illegal immigration problems in our state.”