Florida, a Republican-run state, enjoys that status because of the support of a significant Latino electorate. Some districts, including Florida’s District 27, have populations in which over half of the residents are made up of Latino immigrants. U.S. Representative Maria Elvira Salazar was re-elected in District 27, retaining her position by 15%. However, there is a palpable difference with regards to immigration policy between some of the Republicans in Florida and those looking to pass legislation in Washington, D.C.
The Republicans in Washington, D.C. are pushing to launch an aggressive immigration policy that is being pushed back by Salazar and some of her Republican colleagues. Representative Chip Roy of Texas introduced a bill that would require U.S. officials to automatically ban or detain asylum seekers while their claims are considered. Currently, asylum-seeking migrants are often released with a notice of when to appear in court for their claims to fight for asylum. The bill would also ban the entrance of all migrants if there is no “operation control” at the U.S.-Mexico border. Roy has called on his fellow Republicans to support the bill.
However, many members of the House of Representatives have noted that there will be opposition against it, from both Republicans and Democrats.
“We understand that immigrants want to come and live in the promised land,” Salazar said. “Orderly legal immigration is good for the country and good for District 27.” Salazar supports secure borders but also advocates for the legal movement of migrants in the U.S.
Endorsed by former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Salazar has been a key proponent in the argument to secure the U.S.-Mexican border. She has also called for immigration laws in the U.S. to be revamped, allowing for a faster track for status of those in the country illegally. With her district’s demographics being a majority Latino, Salazar says she understands the importance of this issue.
Salazar also highlighted the good that migrants can bring, citing Albert Einstein as an example of the good that can come from immigration. “The formula hasn’t changed,” Salazar said. “We want the Albert Einsteins of the world to come and work for us and continue to make this economy strong.” Einstein came to the United States in 1933 as a refugee from Nazi Germany.
Democratic House members have sided with Salazar in opposition of Representative Roy’s proposal. Representative Eric Swawell added to Salazar’s sentiment, saying, “Are we stupid? Come on. This country was based on good minds. Look at Albert Einstein. We gave him a piece of paper to come in.”
Republican Mexican-American Representative Tony Gonzales from Texas called the bill “anti-immigrant.” Gonzales’ district in Texas spans from San Antonio to El Paso, covering a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Representative Roy did not agree with Salazar and Gonzales, labeling them as “absurd.” Roy said, “A few of my Republican colleagues prefer to be fiddling while America burns. “Republicans are going to have to put their money where their mouth is.”
The Republican Party has benefited from the Latino vote. According to the Associated Press’ VoteCast, 39% of Latinos voted for the Republicans in the November election cycle, an increase of 7% from the 2018 midterms.