U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- one of three Cuban-American Republicans representing South Florida in Congress -- said she is opposed to a new Arizona law requiring immigrants to carry their legal papers and allowing police to question the legal status of people they stop or arrest.
"I'm against Florida adopting the Arizona-style law because I would like our law enforcement personnel and wonderful police officers to be engaged in in fighting crime and in making sure to get the right person behind the bars to keep our community safe, rather than spending their time being immigration agents,'' she said. "In my congressional district, I have many Hispanic and Haitian constituents. How would this law be enforced? Would we have the police department stopping folks for whatever infraction and ask them for their immigration papers? I'm Hispanic. I'm a naturalized American citizen. I don't carry my immigration papers with me. Do I look Hispanic? Do I sound Hispanic?''
Yesterday, the leading Republican candidate for governor, Bill McCollum, came out in favor of the law at a time when rival Rick Scott is threatening to outflank him on the political right.
"I am not rescinding my support for Bill McCollum,'' Ros-Lehtinen said. "I wish that he wouldn't endorse this law, and I hope we don't pass it in Florida, but I support candidates for many issues."
By the way, McCollum softened his stance on the Arizona law today. Yesterday, his statement said, "If the federal government fails to secure our borders and solve the problem of illegal immigration, I would support a similar law for Florida.'' Today, he told the St. Petersburg Times, "We're not like Arizona. We don't have the border problems. So I don't anticipate any need for a law like Arizona's.''