Immigration reform supporters, foes demonstrate near Rubio’s Palm Beach Gardens officeby George Bennett | May 8th, 2013
Supporters and opponents of the bipartisan immigration reform bill championed by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio took to the streets near Rubio’s Palm Beach Gardens office today.
At about 12:30 p.m., PostOnPolitics counted 23 supporters of the bill near the corner of PGA Boulevard and Military Trail and 13 opponents less than half a mile away in front of Rubio’s office. The outnumbered opponents scored higher in drive-by eye appeal, however, by bringing an “Amnesty Is Death To America” skeleton prop.
Tea party activists organized the protest outside Rubio’s office and delivered a Rubio aide a letter expressing concern about the legislation’s long-term costs. A study released by the conservative Heritage Foundation this week contends that, over 50 years, the bill would be a net drain of $6.3 trillion on federal coffers. Rubio has disputed the study, saying it fails to account for the dynamic economic effect the new citizens would have over the coming decades.
“Secure the borders first. If you secure the borders, then we could understand a little bit more and go forward from there,” said Mel Grossman of the Palm Beach County Tea Party. Grossman said the current bill leaves too much discretion to the Department of Homeland Security, which he said has failed to take illegal border crossings seriously.
Supporters of the bill — including the Service Employees International Union, the President Barack Obama-affiliated Organizing For Action, the Florida Immigrant Coalition and Florida New Majority — organized their counter-demonstration after hearing about the tea party plans.
“They’re trying to scare all these bipartisan Republicans who are taking a moderate approach….We are showing that there are two groups. There is a minority group who is against immigration reform, but a majority of Americans are for immigration reform,” said Florida SEIU’s Afifa Khaliq.