Unfettered Mario Diaz-Balart Takes On Immigration Reform
Around the State
Mario Diaz-Balart is in the odd but enviable position of staying in the political limelight even though he doesn’t face any electoral opponents this year. Instead of focusing on running for another term, Diaz-Balart can spend the upcoming months pushing for immigration reform.
After 14 years in Tallahassee, including time in the Senate and two stints in the Florida House, Diaz-Balart followed in his brother Lincoln’s footsteps and was elected to Congress in 2002. Serving alongside his brother, Diaz-Balart was easily winning re-election and was moving up the Republican ranks. But 2008 proved to be something of a bump in the road for him. Riding Barack Obama’s coattails, Democrat Joe Garcia almost beat Diaz-Balart, taking 47 percent. With his brother leaving Congress in 2010, Diaz-Balart shifted to that seat and won it easily.
That being the case, Diaz-Balart is now trying to rally Republicans behind immigration reform. Looking to win conservatives over, on Wednesday, Diaz-Balart loudly praised Sal Russo from the Tea Party Express coming out in support of immigration reform.
“It is clear that conservatives understand that we cannot continue to have a system with porous borders that hurts our economy and threatens our national security interests,” said Diaz-Balart. “The American people, and conservatives in particular, are fed up with Washington’s inaction. I’m pleased with Mr. Russo’s support on this issue, and today’s announcement is one more demonstration that we must strengthen our borders, respect the rule of law, modernize our antiquated visa system, and bolster the economy.”
Earlier this week, Diaz-Balart told Roll Call that Republicans have a narrow window to pass immigration reform. He said John Boehner and House Republicans only had until August to get immigration reform done.
Diaz-Balart and Russo are only two of several Republicans and GOP allies pushing for immigration reform this week. Tom Donohue from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Monday that if Republicans don’t get immigration reform done this year, they shouldn’t bother to run a presidential candidate in 2016. Al Carendas from the American Conservative Union takes a crack at the issue on Thursday.
Proponents of immigration reform have an uphill battle getting a majority of the Republicans in the House behind their agenda. As they continue to push immigration reform, expect Diaz-Balart to play a larger role, secure in the fact that he is no political peril this year.
Tallahassee-based political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.