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Juan Escalante

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Undocumented In Florida: We Need Bi-Partisanship From Our Politicians

Posted: 04/11/2012 7:09 am

It's an interesting time to be an undocumented immigrant in the state of Florida.

The Sunshine state is currently battling against the construction of one of the nation's largest immigration detention facilities, one that ironically has the support from two federal DREAM Act supporters, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL).

We have Representative David Rivera (R-FL), a man who saw an opportunity to introduce the current Republican Party into the immigration reform battlefield by introducing the STARS and ARMS Acts. Rivera's attempts at promoting both pieces of legislation have received generally bad reviews, however one should always look at both sides of the coin before drawing any conclusions.

Now we have Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a man who is not only rumored to be a potential Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, but who is also crafting the Republican counterpart of the popular DREAM Act.

In a recent interview with Fox News Latino, Senator Rubio stated that while he literally supports the "concept" that the DREAM Act represents, he himself opposes such a measure and instead is putting forth his own version of the bill. Similarly, Republicans Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX).

What is interesting here is the fact that Republicans are willing to mobilize on an election year in order to prop up "solutions" to the broken immigration system; and particularly, solutions that cater to the undocumented youth segment of the immigrant community that currently exists within this country.

Why is this happening all out of the sudden? Well, this could be a political ploy in order to court the growing Latino voting block across our nation, or perhaps is a way for (as Senator Rubio would hope) for the Republican Party to ease itself into being the party of pro-legal immigration.

Whatever the case may be, both parties are failing at recognizing the key issues at hand, and it has nothing to do with the broken immigration system, but rather it has to do with people's lives.

Florida is a clear example of that.

How is the Democratic Party supposed to advocate for the DREAM Act, when two of its leading members are allowing, and practically advocating, for a corporation with a questionable track record to build another detention facility in our state.

Better yet, can and should the immigrant community take any immigration proposal coming from the Republican Party seriously. After all, the Republican Party has been infamous in the last couple of years for opposing any common sense reform to the immigration system.

This political pandering is not helpful, and I can clearly say that the Latino and immigrant communities are quite sick of partisan games. We are not game pieces, and we are certainly not blind sheep who can be bought with fictional promises of legislation that has yet to pass. We are human beings and we live our lives day by day, along with our families, waiting for a solution that can resolve our troubled circumstances.

Democrats like Senator Nelson and Representative Wasserman Schultz need to stand up for the immigrant community of Florida. They are not doing us any favors by supporting a prison that their constituents, and a lot of other people across the state, clearly do not want.

On the flip side, Republicans like Senator Rubio and Representative Rivera are also failing us. While it is great to see some headway from the Republican Party on this sensitive issue, they are only splitting hairs and pointing fingers rather than collaborating with their counterparts.

I think Senator Olympia Snowe best illustrated the partisan issue in her retirement announcement:

"For change to occur, our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building -- but also a political reward for following these tenets. "

While Senator Snowe voted against the DREAM Act the last time around, she is somebody whose opinions I can respect. She gets it, there must be a compromise struck between all parties involved within the immigration issue: Democrats, Republicans, and immigrant advocates.

Our lives, my life, cannot continue to be put on hold, and our communities cannot continue to be criminalized by mere fractures within our political system. Notice that I say our, because despite the fact that I am undocumented, I still consider this my country.

Democrats and Republicans from this state need to stop treating the immigration issue as a political game for the sake of furthering their political ambitions; instead, they should invoke a concept that has been attached to the DREAM Act since its inception, but has vanished in recent years: bi-partisanship.

 

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