By Chan Lowe
3:28 PM EDT, August 8, 2013
It is only right to show compassion for two of our members of Congress from South Florida — namely, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz Balart.
Like the rest of their ilk, they’re home on recess to eschuchar a sus electores, which is local dialect for “listen to their constituents.”
To wit: They’re both conservatives, and normally could be counted on to hew to the party line on all the usual hot-button topics — except immigration. They represent districts heavily populated by immigrants, and those who can vote have friends and relatives for whom adjustments in federal policy are more than just a political abstraction, a cheap applause line or a bargaining chip.
To understand Ros-Lehtinen’s and Diaz-Balart’s predicament, you need to remember that the bulk of the obstructionist wing in the U.S. House Republican caucus comes from districts that, along with having hard line convictions on issues such as abortion and gun control, believe that immigrants are a drain on this country and should be rounded up and shipped back to wherever they came from. The ones who slipped in illegally certainly don’t deserve to be rewarded with “amnesty.”
One can see how that position might ruffle some feathers down in the Miami area. Our two stalwart reps, who normally identify with the conservative way of thinking in Congress, are delicately trying to distance themselves from it on this one issue. The more intolerant their colleagues appear, the more their broad brush tars Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart. All politics is local, and the local folks will want to know why they aren’t spearheading the battle in Washington for their interests.
Until now, South Florida Republican representatives have been given a quiet pass on immigration, in recognition of the realities of their situation. Now the issue has become a flash point (ironically, ginned up by rabble-rousers on the right), and they can’t weasel away from it.
It should make for some compelling town-hall meetings, since the anti-immigration types promise to show up in force. Remember the Obamacare free-for-alls back in 2010 that had Democrats on the run? It’s going to be the same tough crowd — only the target has changed.
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