State Rep. David Rivera did not support or oppose a controversial immigration law in Arizona Tuesday, despite pressure from Democrat Joe Garcia, his likely opponent in a congressional race, that he take a position.
"The law is a distraction from the real solutions that are required to solve the immigration problem," such as securing the border and developing a viable guest-worker program, said Rivera, a Miami Republican and the House budget chief who is running for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.
"A lot of what's going on in Arizona happens in practice already throughout the nation," Rivera added. "When police officers do a legal stop and they run the information or the data or the name and they find the person is here illegally, they immediately interface with federal immigration authorities."
Other Florida Republicans running for higher office, like Attorney General Bill McCollum and Marco Rubio, a close Rivera ally, balked at Arizona's initial law.
But they supported a change to outlaw ethnic and racial profiling by police -- though critics say without any clearly defined criteria, police will be forced to base their suspicions about a person's legal status on their nationality or language skills. (More on Rubio's position here.)
Rivera wouldn't elaborate on either version of the law: "The more you focus on the Arizona law, the less you focus on what congressional leaders need to do to solve the problem," he said.