Saturday, April 23, 2011

Immigration debate: bill splits GOP Cuban-American base

Immigration debate: bill splits GOP Cuban-American base

MIAMI — An immigration bill recently introduced in the Florida Legislature is doing something to the Republican Party's Cuban exile base in South Florida that Democrats have had trouble accomplishing over the years.

It is turning some Cuban-Americans against each other.

Cuban-Americans and other Florida Hispanics are focusing more on the Senate bill because it is sponsored by one of their own: Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Kendall, a Cuban-American whose district is majority Hispanic.

"It is painful as a Republican, the party of Abraham Lincoln, to see the party recommend the violation of civil rights," said attorney Manny Fernandez of Miami, a member of the national Hispanic organization Somos Republicans (We Are Republicans). "It is especially painful that Sen. Flores would accept this in any way. She is betraying her community. If this law passes, she is going to have a battle on her hands."

In a letter to Somos Republicans, she wrote: "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."

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