Florida Dems continue to bring heat on Scott over driver’s license vetoby John Kennedy | June 5th, 2013
Florida Democrats continued Wednesday to bring the heat on Gov. Rick Scott for vetoing legislation aimed at making it easier for children of undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses.
Several Orlando-area House and Senate Democrats gathered outside the county courthouse to blast the Republican governor for what they see as a backward step on immigration.
“This bill would have helped the diverse communities of Central Florida,” said Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando. “The governor missed an opportunity to embrace the Floridians of today.”
Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, also said that Scott’s action was in sharp contrast to the approach of the Obama administration with its support for the so-called Dream Act aimed at creating an eventual path to citizenship for undocumented residents.
“The Dream Act driver’s license bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support,” Soto said, of the measure approved 115-2 in the House and 36-0 in the Senate. “It passed because we as a legislature understand these young Floridians receiving deferred action require a driver’s license to pursue the American Dream.
“Scott’s veto yesterday flew in the face of this fundamental belief, and has effectively denied this opportunity for thousands of young Hispanics, Haitians, and other immigrants legally here in our great state,” Soto said.
Scott is likely to draw strongest support for his action from conservative groups already wary of federal efforts to ease sanctions against illegal immigrants. The 2012 elections, marked by the Republican Party’s struggle to attract minority voters, seemed to soften the GOP-ruled Legislature’s stance on the issue.
But Scott held firm.
In his veto, Scott said the bill’s reliance on an untested federal policy was alarming. In June 2012, the Obama administration said children brought illegally to the country would not be subject to deportation under most circumstances. But Scott said standard that doesn’t carry the authority of law.
Florida already allows immigrants legally allowed to work the opportunity to receive temporary drivers’ licenses. For now, Scott said that was enough.
In his veto letter, Scott wrote, “Although the Legislature may have been well-intentioned in seeking to expedite the process to obtain a temporary driver license, it should not have been done by relying on a federal government policy adopted without legal basis.”