Florida politicians react to President Obama’s executive action on immigration

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President Obama announced Thursday executive orders that would give a temporary reprieve to millions of people in the country illegally.

Here is a compilation of reactions to Obama’s executive action:

Former Governor Jeb Bush:

“President Obama’s ill-advised unilateral action on illegal immigration undermines all efforts to forge a permanent solution to this crisis. Action must come in the form of bipartisan comprehensive reform passed through Congress. President Obama has once again put divisive and manipulative politics before the sober leadership and sound laws required of an exceptional nation. It is time for Republican leaders in Congress to act. We must demonstrate to Americans we are the Party that will tackle serious challenges and build broad-based consensus to achieve meaningful reforms for our citizens and our future.”

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio:

“We need immigration reform. But the right way to do it is to first bring illegal immigration under control by securing the borders and enforcing the laws, then modernizing our legal immigration system. After we do these things, we will eventually have to deal with those here illegally in a reasonable but responsible way. The President’s actions now make all of this harder and are unfair to people in our immigration system who are doing things the right way.”

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson:

“We passed a comprehensive and bipartisan immigration bill by an overwhelming margin last year in the Senate.  But you just can’t get some of the reactionaries in the House of Representatives to move.  So I think the president should have done this.  He certainly has the legal authority.  The bottom line is this: we need to act fairly toward our people and also to help keep the economy moving.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

“I applaud the executive action taken today by President Obama on immigration, using his lawful authority to provide compassion and certainty to millions of our fellow neighbors, family, and friends.  For too long, our broken immigration system has pushed our fellow brothers and sisters into the shadows and outside of the system.  Because of today’s action, more Florida families will no longer have to live in fear of being separated, more parents will remain with their children, and more young Floridians, many who have known no other country than ours, will get to continue their pursuit of the American dream.

“I remain firmly committed to common-sense immigration reform like today’s measures because it is the right policy for the safety and prosperity of South Florida and America.  This course of action allows us to prioritize the removal of those who pose a risk to national security or public safety, strengthens our workforce, protects American workers, and reduces our nation’s deficit.

“I again urge Republican leaders in the House to take up and pass H.R. 15, the bipartisan immigration reform bill.  This legislation remains the most comprehensive and enduring way to fix our immigration system. I know that President Obama took today’s action only after House Republicans refused to deal with these vital issues at all during this Congress.

“Thank you to President Obama for taking action while House Republicans continue to block common-sense reforms. This bold approach is not only right for families but right for America’s economy and security.”

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis:

“As a second generation Greek American, I have a firsthand understanding of the importance and power of the American dream, as well as the sensitivity and passion surrounding immigration reform. There is no doubt our immigration system is broken, but President Obama cannot act unilaterally and refuse to work with Congress. In the President’s own words: ‘That’s not how our democracy functions.’

We must not forget that we have an obligation to preserve the promise of the American dream for future generations. To do so, we must uphold the rule of law and ensure its equal application. This means that we must enforce current immigration laws, strengthen the borders, and ensure all visas are enforced properly. This is an issue that impacts all Americans, and we must unite to solve this problem. In doing so, we can ensure the American dream remains alive and well for future generations.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia:

“The President’s announcement today represents an important step in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform.  It will help keep families together, grow the American economy, and protect our national security.  Because of his actions, millions will no longer have to live in fear, and we can focus our attention and our resources on those who wish to do our nation harm, rather than those simply chasing the American dream.

 “As far reaching as his actions are however, they are not enough.  We need Congress to step up and put politics aside to do what is right for this country.  Our economy and our communities suffer as a result of outdated, insufficient immigration laws.  Executive action is a big help, but it is Congress’s responsibility to fix our broken immigration system.  I hope the President’s actions will compel them to do so.”

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross:

“Two weeks ago, President Obama stood before the American people and announced that he had heard the voters’ message. But the underlying meaning of the following statement proves that his agenda is contrary to what Americans desire: ‘Still, as president, I have a unique responsibility to try to make this town work.’ Actions speak louder than words, and the president’s ‘unique responsibility’ of ignoring the will of the American people, and circumventing the United States Congress, is the wrong course of action. If the president goes forward as planned, I suspect his ‘immigration reform’ will have the same negative outcome as his ‘health care reform’.

“I have repeatedly stated that the best way to address immigration reform is with incremental steps, with the first critical step being to secure our borders. Instead, the president is headed to Las Vegas to gamble away our national security by granting massive amnesty rights while failing to secure our border. The president’s go-it-alone attitude will cause irreparable harm to any effort to reform our immigration system and ruin any chance of having a positive working relationship with Congress during his final two years in office. I implore President Obama to reconsider his executive action and instead work with Congress, and the majority of the American people, on a real solution.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney:

“The American people sent a clear message on Election Day that they want us to work together to deliver real solutions. The President didn’t get the memo.

 “We need immigration reform, but not at the expense of the rule of law or the Constitution. Congress and the President should work together on long-term reforms to our broken system. Unfortunately, the President’s unilateral action will make real progress on this issue impossible and set back efforts to find bipartisan agreement.

 “By taking this action, the President isn’t just ignoring Congress or the laws we’ve passed; he’s ignoring the American people and the Constitution. He has admitted himself on more than 20 occasions that this decision exceeds his authority. Over the coming days and weeks, the House of Representatives will take clear and decisive action to reverse this decision and constrain this imperial Presidency.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor:

“In the face of interminable obstruction, it is necessary for President Obama to act by executive order, just as he did in 2012 when he granted temporary relief to DREAM Act students who were born outside America but know no other country and have no other home. Such temporary relief for DREAM Act students paved the way for many young people to become productive individuals for our local communities, like Jose Godinez-Samperio who will be sworn into the Florida Bar this evening by a Florida Supreme Justice in Tampa. The executive order inspired even the Republican-led Florida Legislature to allow a non-citizen with new legal status to realize his dream to the benefit of our state. If any pathway or application process existed, that would have been preferable. However, no such process exists until Congress changes the law to allow it.

U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw:

“Someone is not listening, and he lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. On November 4, I heard voters in Florida and across the nation say that they’re opposed to amnesty. They are the same voters who took their thinking to the ballot box, increasing Republican margins in the House and turning the United States Senate leadership over to the GOP because they are tired of the president circumventing the will of the people. I continue to stand alongside these Americans – 100 percent against amnesty. But, our President does not. The very man who said 22 times that he could not ignore or create his own immigration laws wants to do exactly that by working around Congress. It’s astounding, but unfortunately, it’s not surprising.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.