Florida voters searching for answers on Immigration by Mitch E. Perry,

04/21/06

According to a new poll, voters in Florida now say immigration is the state's second most pressing problem, but they're not certain how to resolve it.The finding -- coming two weeks after a Senate immigration accord dissolved in partisan bickering -- reflects a national Gallup poll that found a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who now believe immigration is the ''most important problem in the U.S.'' -- just below the war in Iraq. And in Florida, 13 percent of voters now rank immigration as the most important problem facing the state -- second only to the 24 percent who cited education, according to the survey conducted by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. But the poll of 951 registered voters shows Floridians are conflicted about how to handle illegal immigration, with opinions shifting based on how the questions are asked.A majority of Florida voters surveyed oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens. But voters split, 48 to 47 percent, over making it easier for illegal immigrants to become legal workers.

Al Fox has a lot of thoughts about immigration…The long time advocate against the embargo in Cuba is running as a Democrat in the Congressional primary election to succeed Jim Davis……As WMNF reported last night, a nationwide crackdown at IFCO systems this week saw more than 1,100 suspected illegal immigrants arrested, including 38 in Polk County. But like some hardline conservatives on the topic, Fox says he wasn’t impressed by the raid (roll tape#1 o.q.�in our society�)

Congress returns back to Washington next week – to resume work on an immigration bill in the Senate that foundered before the Easter break. Supporters of liberalizing immigration reform were heartened when the Senate Judiciary Committee supported legislation largely mirroring provisions in a bill sponsored by Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy that require illegal immigrants to pay all regular fees as well as a $1,000 fine to join a guest-worker program and, after six years, another $1,000 fine to obtain a green card signifying legal permanent residence. Green card holders eventually can apply for citizenship.But Congressional candidate Al Fox – a critic of the harsh House immigration bill – also says he doesn’t like McCain Kennedy (roll tape#2 o.q.�and all legal�)

The Quinnipiac Poll on Immigration does find unified opposition to one aspect of the debate – the recent pro-immigration rallies held in Tampa , Dade City, Fort Myers and throughout Florida and the country.Fewer than 20 percent of voters said the recent pro-immigrant demonstrations left them ''more sympathetic'' to the demonstrators' goals, while 38 percent said they were ''less sympathetic.'' About 40 percent said they were unaffected.Those numbers do surprise Maria Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrants Coalition somewhat (roll tape#3 o.q.�for everybody�)

Major rallies are planned for a week from Monday, May 1st again,..Maria Rodriguez is with the Florida Immigrants Coalition (roll tape#3 o.q.�Manatee County�)Rodriguez did NOT mention Tampa, where an estimated 3,000 people demonstrated 2 weeks ago at the corner of Dale Mabry Highway and Columbus Drive…Local organizers have not determined if there will be a rally there on May 1st yet, because they need to come up with $3,000 to use the parking lots at adjoining Raymond James Stadium.

Local Congressional candidate Al Fox is supportive of the pro-immigration rallies…But he doesn’t think much of protestors hoisting their original countries flags, which has become somewhat of a flashpoint in this debate (roll tape#5 o.q.�and they agreed with me�)

Local Organizers say they will know by early next week whether a pro-immigrant rights rally will take place in Tampa on May 1st. .

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