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From the Sun-Sentinel:
A long-running and divisive debate among Florida Republicans over immigration policy has emerged as a major issue in the nationally watched Florida Senate race between Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio.
The immediate question is whether the Census should count unauthorized immigrants (foreign residents who lack documentation and whose legal status has not been determined.)
Crist wants to count all residents to draw a bigger share of federal funding for Florida and to boost the state’s political clout by adding representatives in Congress.
Rubio renewed the debate on Wednesday by saying that counting illegal residents “would dilute the voting power of every American citizen. Moreover, it would actually incentivize politicians to perpetuate our broken immigration system by rewarding states with large illegal immigrant populations with a louder voice in Washington.”
Their sparing over the Census reflects a larger debate on immigration.
Many Florida Republicans — including Cuban-Americans in Congress and former Senator Mel Martinez — support legislation that would tighten immigration enforcement but give unauthorized residents a path to legal status. Many Republicans spurn such a plan as an amnesty that might encourage more illegal migrations.
A backlash over this issue was one reason Martinez abruptly quit his post as general chairman of the Republican national party and resigned from the Senate.
Martinez had hoped to continue the tradition of Jeb Bush and other Republicans in Florida who reached out to immigrant communities to form a majority coalition. Many, perhaps most, Republicans want to continue that outreach by proposing tax breaks for small businesses and stressing conservative positions on social policy rather than focusing on immigration reform.
The results of the Crist versus Rubio Republican primary will indicate the party’s direction on this issue.
A new national poll indicates that nearly three-quarters of all Americans would like to see a decrease in the number of illegal immigrants in the country.
Seventy-three percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday morning called for a drop in the number of illegal immigrants, with 22 percent saying the number should remain the same and just 3 percent stating that there should be an increase in the number of illegal immigrants. That 73 percent figure is the highest number since CNN started asking this question four years ago.
According to the poll, 37 percent want to see all illegal immigrants deported, also the highest number since the questions was first asked in 2006, and another 23 percent say that the number of illegal immigrants in the country should be decreased significantly.