Earlier this week, Florida Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum (R) unveiled a proposed immigration bill which many argue is “even tougher” than Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB-1070. While McCollum likely believes his support of the bill will win him some votes, he has also sparked a backlash amongst several notable Latino members of the Florida Republican Party. Most notably, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). The Cuban-American U.S. congresswoman and co-chair of McCollum’s Statewide Hispanic Leadership Team was in disbelief and doesn’t think the anti-immigrant legislation will solve the state’s problems. The Miami Herald reports:
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, a co-chair of the team, said Thursday afternoon that she last spoke to the state attorney general on Tuesday — one day before he called a news conference in Orlando to unveil the bill with Republican legislators.
“I’m disappointed and was blindsided by Bill’s decision to promote this, and I encourage the candidates to focus on plans that will improve Florida’s economy, bring jobs to our state and jump-start our tourism,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “I fail to see how promotion of this issue will accomplish that, and I was taken aback.”
The Cuban-American congresswoman added: “Bill McCollum doesn’t owe me an explanation…but I would have liked to have known beforehand because I would have cautioned him to focus on other issues. Obsessing about this issue in the gubernatorial campaign means other issues are getting short shrift.”
When asked about McCollum’s latest move, a spokesperson for Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) simply stated, “He believes the best approach is for the federal government to deal with border security and immigration, and he hopes state efforts like Arizona are a wake-up call for Congress to get its act together.” Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) similarly distanced himself from McCollum’s proposal, stating that though he still supports McCollum, he “personally disagree[s] with him having to go that far.” The Wonk Room has more fallout from McCollum’s bill.