A group of Florida Republicans including two who were critical of Donald Trump will launch a conservative coalition that will make an economic argument in favor of immigration reform.
Floridians for Immigration Solutions will hold their kickoff event at Hialeah City Hall at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
“The effort is one of a dozen statewide conservative coalitions calling for a responsible solution to the country’s broken immigration system that secures the border, grows the economy, and recognizes that America cannot and should not engage in mass deportations of millions of productive members of society,” states a press release.
Trump made a series of immigration-related promises including that he would turn off the “jobs and benefits magnet” that attracts immigrants who come to the United States illegally. His immigration plan also includes building a wall on the Mexican border, deporting criminals and ending Obama’s executive actions including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Trump has something in common with some Florida business owners: he has used H-2B visas to import temporary foreign workers at his Mar-A-Lago resort.
The coalition leaders include four Republican past or present politicians: Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, State Sen. René García, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Juan Zapata and former State Rep. J.C. Planas. The coalition also includes business leaders Julio Fuentes, CEO of the Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Mandy Llanes, chair of the Hialeah Chamber of Commerce.
Planas backed libertarian Gary Johnson but said on election day he wrote in former Gov. Jeb Bush’s name. He said the coalition will make an economic case about the need for immigration reform.
“The message of this is immigrants are not just an important part of our country -- immigrants are an important part of the economy,” Planas told the Miami Herald. “For all Americans to prosper and for us to keep the economy growing we have to make any immigration solution be as positive for economy as possible. We cannot let any sort of xenophobic feelings cause us to harm the economic recovery of the country.”
Garcia criticized Trump after he said that a judge in the Trump University case couldn’t be fair because the judge was of Mexican descent and Trump wants to build a border wall.
"These demeaning words seek to divide the country among racial lines, and that is simply contrary to the American values that have made our country great,” Garcia said in June. “It is shameful that Mr. Trump is using his public profile to force pressure on a reputable member of the federal judiciary to affect the outcome of a private civil matter. Republican or Democrat, black or white, we must stand in solidarity and denounce these blatantly racist remarks."
Hernandez, who told the Miami Herald that he voted for Trump, said he wants a path to legal status for certain undocumented immigrants. He said he wants the Trump administration to pursue: "a path to securing our border, restructuring the U.S. immigration system in a manner that supports economic growth, discourages illegal immigration, and creates a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants who are not a threat and are productive members of society."
The coalition is an initiative of the New American Economy, a bipartisan effort calling for immigration reform. The New American Economy is working toward having similar coalitions nationwide -- this is the first one in Florida.
“Our basic reason for being is to make the case of how immigration helps America and helps the economy,” said Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the New American Economy. “We want diverse political voices. It’s no secret the Republicans control everything, that is the reason why we are lifting up conservative voices now.”