Happytown: No Florida drivers licenses for Dreamers 

Gov. Rick Scott rejects notion that undocumented residents should be allowed to obtain licenses

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4.3 MILLION

NUMBER OF HISPANICS RESIDING IN FLORIDA, 62 PERCENT OF WHOM TURNED OUT FOR THE 2012 GENERAL ELECTION

 

8,973

NUMBER OF “DREAMERS” RESIDING IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA WHO HAVE BEEN APPROVED FOR DEFERRED DEPORTATION STATUS; 291,589 HAVE BEEN APPROVED NATIONALLY BETWEEN AUGUST 2012 AND APRIL 2013

 

50 PERCENT

ESTIMATED HISPANIC VOTE VICTORY FOR GOV. RICK SCOTT IN 2010, WITH 48 PERCENT GOING TO DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER ALEX SINK

“ALTHOUGH THE LEGISLATURE MAY HAVE BEEN WELL-INTENTIONED IN SEEKING TO EXPEDITE THE PROCESS TO OBTAIN A TEMPORARY DRIVER’S LICENSE, IT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DONE BY RELYING ON A FEDERAL POLICY ADOPTED WITHOUT LEGAL BASIS.”
– GOV. RICK SCOTT IN A MESSAGE ACCOMPANYING HIS VETO OF THE BILL INTENDED TO ASSIST DREAMERS IN GETTING TEMPORARY LICENSES
Sources: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Census Bureau, Orlando Sentinel, PolitiFact.com

 

TEA FOR WHO?

With the far-right political fringes sputtering tannic acid around flimsy, looped news cycles of federal scandal these days – truthfully, we all needed a lesson in institutional acronyms about as much as we needed one in constitutional privacy – it probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the soft-focus reboot of Gov. Rick Scott has been giving way to the hard-line again. It was, after all, Scott’s snake-oil satchel of regressive policies (plus $73 million of his own fraud money) that charmed the pants off our dumb state nearly three years ago, so why not revisit the art of privatizing everything, firing teachers and hating immigrants? Government is dumb!

On June 4, Gov. Scott bucked even the extremities of his own party in the legislature by vetoing House Bill 235, an initiative passed almost unanimously during the legislative session that would allow Dreamers – undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who are brought here by their parents – to obtain temporary driver’s licenses to last the duration of their deferments. It sort of made sense, right? Federal law now mandates that these kids have a right to temporary residence – and they likewise pay sales and income taxes – so they should probably be entitled to drive themselves to work. Well, that depends on what you call federal law.

Falling right in line with his rejection of federal money for high-speed rail and for Medicaid expansion (at least for now) – two public relations nightmares that have resulted in his abysmal approval ratings – Gov. Scott raised his hackles at the notion that President Barack Obama subverted congressional approval when mandating protections for Dreamers. If the Republicans in the U.S. House didn’t do it, then it never happened and it shouldn’t have even been considered by state legislators. It should be noted that Scott didn’t say anything about this in the past – just as it should be noted that he is currently trying to garner support for a re-election bid – so it is, on its face, suspicious behavior. Add to that the fact that the Florida Department of Highway Safety is already looking at plans for driving privileges for the state’s nearly 9,000 Dreamers and that, by virtue of their employment, federal law will see to it that they receive the permits they deserve through the state, and it just makes no sense whatsoever.

“Today our governor showed us that he lacks the courage to confront the most extreme elements in his party that seek to marginalize immigrants, particularly Hispanic immigrants,” Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami Beach, said in a statement. Indeed.

But not everyone – just almost everyone – agrees. In a move that should surprise nobody, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio jumped to Scott’s defense on the issue, using some kind of scatter logic that only makes sense to feral cats and Florida Republicans. Rubio, who is one of the handpicked architects of comprehensive immigration reform (the same reform he now seems to be backing away from because the borders aren’t strong enough, man), thinks that Scott’s signal is a sign from above that something has to be done. He’s just not sure what it is.

“Quite frankly I too am troubled by the way the president did what he did,” Rubio said on June 6, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “But at the end of the day, the big picture to take away from it is this is one of the reasons why we need to pass immigration reform. So that issues like this that continue pop up at the state level will no longer pop up.”

Unless, that is, you want them to pop up in order to send a message to your frothing base. Then all bets are off.

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