Immigration: Carlos Curbelo, Florida GOP Leaders Back John Boehner
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Miami Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo and Republican leaders from Florida stood strongly behind U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on immigration reform on Wednesday. Curbelo is the favorite to win the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., in November.
Boehner and the Republican leadership released a memo last week with immigration standards including a path to citizenship for illegal aliens currently living in the United States. But Boehner is holding the line on blanket amnesty. Immigration reform embraced by the “Gang of Eight” passed the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate last year but it has made little progress in the Republican-led U.S. House.
Saying he was “very satisfied that Republicans are part of trying to find a solution to fix our broken immigration” system, Curbelo said he backed Boehner’s efforts and said conservatives and Republicans should fall in line behind it.
“It should be part of conservatives’ congressional agenda,” Curbelo said.
Curbelo was joined by prominent Republicans and conservatives from the Sunshine State including Rudy Fernandez from the University of Miami who served as a special assistant to President George W. Bush, Janell Hendren of the Florida Farm Bureau Foundation, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Juan Zapata and new media figure Justin Sayfie who was communications director to former Gov. Jeb Bush.
Zapata said he was optimistic immigration reform would happen in 2014 and praised “level headed” Republicans who could pass the measure. But there is opposition in the Republican ranks with U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, warning Boehner he will face a leadership challenge if he goes too far on immigration reform. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the media this week that he did not foresee the two congressional chambers reaching an agreement on immigration reform.
Fernandez responded to a question from Sunshine State News on Labrador’s threat and McConnell’s pessimism. “The naysayers have been around since the beginning of the fight,” Fernandez said, insisting the GOP leadership would have the votes to stop opponents of immigration reform like Labrador.
With Garcia considered one of the more vulnerable congressmen in Florida come November, Democrats have been attacking Curbelo on immigration in recent weeks.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) launched a Web video attacking Curbelo on immigration back in December.
“Carlos Curbelo played a leading role in one of the most derogatory and offensive campaigns against Florida’s Hispanic community, which shows just how out of touch Curbelo is with the values of South Florida,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the DCCC. “Unfortunately, the anti-Hispanic policies and rhetoric that Curbelo practiced do put him perfectly in line with the dysfunctional politics of the Republicans in Washington who were responsible for torpedoing immigration reform efforts that are so vital to South Florida’s economy and families."
The Garcia camp has been pushing immigration reform and warning about the tea party in recent days.
“Far right groups pushing their divisive agenda have already spent millions of dollars on ad time to attack Joe,” wrote Jon Adrabi, who is working on Garcia’s campaign, in a message to supporters last week. "While Joe is fighting for hard-working families in South Florida, out-of-state groups are swooping into our district, aiming to give the tea party even more power.
“Joe is focused on working with both sides of the aisle to find solutions to the challenges we all face,” added Adrabi. “We need more people in Congress who are willing to work together, not more of the tea party.”
Garcia has also been playing up his support of immigration reform. “From enacting substantive, comprehensive immigration reform, to extending unemployment benefits, to stopping catastrophic rate increases to flood insurance, Congress has an opportunity to do what the American people sent us here to do,” Garcia insisted on Friday. “The biggest obstacle to sending these pieces of legislation to the president is the tea party continuing to logjam Congress.”
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.