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Mitt Romney, Immigration Feature in S. Florida Congressional Race

August 18, 2014 - 6:00pm
Immigration and a former presidential candidate are taking center stage in one of the most competitive congressional races in the nation.

Earlier this week, just in time for early voting for the Republican primary, former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., the GOPs presidential candidate in 2012, hit South Florida to campaign with Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo who is running for his partys nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., in November. The other candidates in the primary are Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, former Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck and former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla.

Romney endorsed Curbelo -- who also has the backing of prominent Florida Republicans including former Gov. Jeb Bush, former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., and members of Congress -- earlier in the month.

"I am proud to stand with Carlos Curbelo, a young conservative leader who will work hard to reform our government, balance the budget, and improve the quality of life for the people of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, Romney said in his endorsement. As an education reformer, Carlos puts students first. In Washington, he will put his community and our country first. I urge my friends in Florida's 26th Congressional District to vote for Carlos Curbelo.

Curbelo praised Romney on Monday for helping share my vision for a better economy and more responsible, ethical government for the people of Southern Florida.

Democrats protested events with Romney and Curbelo, hitting the Republicans on Medicare and other issues.

Carlos Curbelo and Mitt Romney are two peas in a pod when it comes to putting themselves and their dysfunctional politics over South Florida families, said Max Steele, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party. Miami area residents want a representative they can trust to stand up for the middle class, seniors and their values which is why South Florida rejected Romney before and will do the same to Curbelo in November.

Immigration is also becoming an issue as both Garcia and Curbelo look ahead to the fall. Curbelo engaged in a debate over the weekend with his primary rivals on WPLG-ABC 10s This Week in South Florida in which immigration played a major role.

As a school board member, I know just how big of a crisis this is and what it costs and the toll it takes on our community, he said. These children, we have to recognize they're victims, but we have to send them back delicately and with the dignity they deserve. Curbelo said. He also said illegals should have basic due process but insisted a weak immigration policy would send the wrong message.

For his part, with school starting this week, Garcia shone the spotlight on children who came to the United States illegally who are now taking classes in public schools.

This being the first day of school, we wanted to make sure these children were getting the right treatment and, yeah, theyre going to school, Garcia told CBS 4 in Miami. This is not a burden on our local school board, this is not a burden on our local government but we wanted to make sure.

Reach Kevin Derby at or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN

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