Scott steps into immigration debate with vetoby John Kennedy | June 4th, 2013
Rick Scott vetoed legislation Tuesday that would have allowed children of undocumented immigrants to get Florida drivers’ licenses, a move likely to rattle the governor’s support within the state’s Hispanic community while bolstering his backing from conservative groups.
The measure (HB 235) had sailed easily through a Republican-controlled Legislature, which in previous years had opposed similar steps toward embracing children of those in the country illegally.
The House approved the bill this spring 115-2; the Senate 36-0, a sign to many that Florida Republicans were looking to distance themselves from the hardline themes of the 2012 elections.
Scott, however, said the bill’s reliance on a newly adopted policy of the Obama administration was alarming.
In June 2012, the administration said children brought illegally to the country would not be subject to deportation under most circumstances.
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.”
Florida Democrats lashed out at Scott.
“Rick Scott continues to alienate and discriminate against thousands of undocumented immigrants,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp. “Instead of joining the legislature’s near-unanmous consensus around HB 235, Gov. Scott imposed his rigid ideology on Floridians — to the detriment of the young immigrants who are Florida’s future.”