What about the Cubans?

This morning, The Miami Herald reported that Republican candidates for statewide races had come out firmly in support of Arizona's recent immigration laws, and have suggested Florida should follow suit. (Rubio isn't quoted in the Herald, but he's in support of the law as well.) But I think this could very well backfire on all of them--could, I emphasize.

A big part of Florida's problem with immigration has to do with the different ways we deal with the various groups who show up on our shores. If you're from Cuba, the law says that if you make it to land, you can stay, and in a year you can apply for residency. If you're from anywhere else and you come here in less-than-legal ways, you're out of luck, assuming you get caught. And your chances of getting caught is, of course, dependent on how you look. Let's put it this way--if you go to one of the many Irish pubs in the area, there's a decent chance that someone working there is here on a tourist visa or has overstayed a visa or just came in through some other means. In other words, they're illegal. But the chances they'd be asked for documentation by a local cop should Florida pass an Arizona-type law? Practically none.

But Cubans? If Florida adopts this sort of law, some Cubans can expect to be confused for Dominicans and other Latino/as, if only for this reason--not every cop is going to discerning enough to differentiate between them (assuming the cop makes an attempt in the first place). So there's a big chance for insult, right alongside the insults that every other legal Latino/a immigrant is likely to face.

But if that's not enough to convince you, then think about this. Arizona is already getting economically pummeled by boycotts. Our economy is beyond fragile right now, and we can't handle a hit to our tourism industry in the best of times. We need people to come here not only from the rest of the country, but from other countries, and if we become Arizona 2: Immigration Bougaloo, we'll see an economic hit that makes the bursting of the real estate bubble look like a hiccup.

So there's two good reasons to not adopt an Arizona-type immigration law. The problems Arizona faces with racial profiling are multiplied here, and the potential economic hit is too much to bear. How much confidence do I have that Florida Republicans will come to their senses and not do something like this? Not much.

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