We hate to say we told you so, but, "We told you so."
As predicted in a Sunshine State News story back on Jan. 18, Florida's Republican leaders figured out a way to kill immigration legislation this year.
For those keeping score, that's 31 dead immigration bills in the last four sessions.
Each year, GOP politicians' tough campaign talk about illegal aliens turns to warmed-over mush in Tallahassee.
Church, state and business groups combined this year to dilute and derail a common-sense E-Verify bill. Republican leaders -- confronted daily by bands of roving, praying migrants -- simply dithered until the clock ran out.
It was a slow death that tea party groups and others say they will not forget at the 2012 elections. After perennial bait-and-switch promises from Republicans, citizen anger is reaching critical mass.
Much of the disgust was directed at Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Budget Chairman J.D. (rhymes with "shady") Alexander, who honchoed the E-Verify bill into oblivion.
Haridopolos, who is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, can say he voted for the ill-fated measure. Yet that claim doesn't hold much water because he strategically placed Alexander and Anitere Flores in key committee chairs, where they could fiddle with the bill until it was too late.
Also on the hit list are 10 other Senate Republicans who voted against SB 2040 -- and they didn't say "nay" over concerns that it had been watered down.
Led by Alexander and Flores, this herd of RINOs fell into line with lockstep Democrats: Ellyn Bogdanoff, Charlie Dean, Nancy Detert, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Rene Garcia, Dennis Jones, Jack Latvala, Jim Norman, Garrett Richter and Steve Wise.
Little noted but equally culpable were House Republican leaders who just ran out the clock on HB 7089, a tougher E-Verify and enforcement measure authored by Rep. Will Snyder. In a session-ending stare-down with the Senate, the House didn't even bother to take up its bill or the Senate's -- completing the twin killing.
Harried by a coalition of corporate-cozy Republicans and open-borders left-wing Democrats, even a free, widely used employee-screening program as efficient and accurate as E-Verify ran into a political buzz saw.
As CEO of the Big Ag company Alico Inc. that has employed illegal workers (see report here), Alexander had a direct conflict. In its 2010 report, Alico stated:
"Alico engages third parties to provide personnel for its harvesting operations. Alico communicates to such third parties its policyofemploying only workers approved to work in the United States. However, Alico does not specifically monitor such compliance andthe personnel engaged by such third parties could be from pools composed of immigrant labor.
"Changes in immigration laws or enforcement of such laws could impact the ability of Alico to harvest its crops."
Alexander could have -- and should have -- recused himself. But he did quite the opposite, spreading misinformation about E-Verify's costs after praying with immigrants.
"Inever met a bunch of people that were more hard-working, more family-oriented people," the Lake Wales Republican gushed during last week's perfunctory floor debate.
Then, to the surprise of no one except the Tallahassee press corps, he voted against "his" own E-Verify bill. (Alexander did not respond to Sunshine State News' requests for comment.)
Fact is, thousands of U.S. businesses routinely use the E-Verify database to check employees' eligibility to work. Companies like Chipotle Mexican Grill that have been heavily fined for hiring illegal workers have switched to E-Verify as the surest way to steer clear of future problems.
With more states, including neighboring Georgia, enacting E-Verify laws, Florida has set itself as a magnet for illegals, critics say.
"The Legislature has decided to make Florida a sanctuary state," groused Charlotte County tea party activist Robin Stublen.
Henry Kelley, of Fort Walton Beach, said the tea movement was betrayed by Republican lawmakers.
"You just wrecked that trust that we provided you in a sweeping mandate last fall," Kelley wrote to state GOP leaders."We will pray that President Obama acts in his second term in accordance with our Constitution, because you just ripped the heart out of the very group that would drive Florida in the 2012 election cycle."
But giving cover to politicians on the left and right, "faith" leaders repeatedly conflated legal and illegal immigration -- and blurred the line between church and state.
If the Christian Coalition sang, prayed and remonstrated at the Legislature like these bused-in "social-justice" stooges, its members would have been mocked by the media, dismissed by Democrats and perhaps even taken to court by the ACLU.
Yet, wrapped in pseudo-religious trappings of political correctness, the business-labor alliance prevailed again at the 2011 Legislature. And that strikes immigration-control advocate George Fuller as more than a little ironic, historically speaking.
"Schoolchildren are taught the slaves were freed from their shackles," Fuller said, noting that this year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. "The fact is, economic slavery did not end then and has continued to this day.
"As one Florida grower put it, 'We used to own them, now we just rent them,'" Fuller related.
And so it goes. While businesses "rent" undocumented workers for "slave" wages, Floridians foot the bill for educating, medicating and incarcerating illegal aliens at an estimated cost of nearly $5.5 billion annually ... and the politicians say wait till next year.
Contact Kenric Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 801-5341.