U.S. Congressional Senate Race – The Florida candidates stand on immigration issues

by Attorney Caroly Pedersen

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Similar to the Florida Governor’s race, the Senate contest between Democratic Senator Bill Nelson and Republican Governor Rick Scott is in full swing heading into the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th. Scott is seeking to take Nelson’s Senate seat by attempting to appeal to Florida voters, including Hispanics and other immigrant citizens. Scott’s problem is his glaring record of voting against immigrants’ rights in Florida and of fully supporting most of Trump’s immigration policies, with the exception of the administration’s recent “family separation” policy.

As Governor of Florida, his poor record on immigration has come back to haunt him. He has consistently refused to allow immigrants without status to obtain Driver’s Licenses and IDs, even promising to bring an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida, which would allow law enforcement to stop individuals to verify their immigration status. Scott says he supports DACA, but his record contradicts that claim. In 2013 he vetoed a bill passed by the Florida legislature which would have allowed Dreamers to obtain state-issued driver’s licenses in Florida, thus killing the measure and leaving millions of young immigrants without a legal right to drive or obtain official identification.

Senator Bill Nelson, on the other hand has consistently supported immigrants’ rights, DACA Dreamers and adamantly opposes Trump’s cruel family separation policy. He has voted in favor of every Senate bill to provide immigrants with legal status, including amnesty. Unfortunately, both houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans, and as a result, comprehensive immigration reform legislation continues to fail in the Senate. The only hope for immigration reform lies with the Democrats gaining a majority in Congress, a longshot, but possible with overwhelming support from Florida Hispanics and immigrant voters.

Here’s a quick review of how each candidate stands on major immigration issues.

Rick Scott (Republican Governor):

Supports most of Trump’s strict immigration enforcement measures and is a proponent of building the Wall.

Supports Real ID and is against allowing immigrants without legal status to obtain a Driver’s Licenses or Florida IDs. He vetoed a bill  which would have allowed Dreamers to obtain state-issued driver’s licenses in Florida, thus killing the measure and leaving millions of young immigrants without a legal right to drive or obtain official identification.

Supports E-Verify to require all businesses in Florida to check the immigration status of employees prior to hiring

Since he recently began running for the Senate seat now held by Senator Bill Nelson, he says he now supports DACA status and opposes providing a “Pathway to citizenship” for Dreamers, but his past record does not reflect those positions.

Opposes Trump’s policy of separating parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border

Unclear whether he supports or opposes comprehensive immigration reform, often called “Amnesty” which will allow immigrants to obtain legal immigration status

Bill Nelson (Democratic Senator):

Opposes Trump’s strict immigration enforcement measures, instead favoring compassion over enforcement

Opposes building the Wall, instead favoring more efficient forms of advanced electronic surveillance to secure the border.

Opposes Real ID, E-Verify, instead favors against allowing immigrants without legal status to obtain a Driver’s Licenses and Florida IDs

Supports DACA and favors providing a “Pathway to citizenship” for Dreamers

Supports comprehensive immigration reform, often called “Amnesty” which will allow immigrants to obtain legal immigration status

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