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GOP moderates rebel on immigration

GOP moderates rebel on immigration
June 05
12:07 2018

Rep. Carlos Curbelo,

HOMESTEAD, Florida: Cipriano Garza says Republican Carlos Curbelo is “a decent man, a family man.” He lauds the South Florida Republican for defiantly pushing his party to protect young “Dreamer” immigrants from deportation.
Founder of a non-profit that helps farm workers, Garza happily hosted Curbelo at a reception honouring high school graduates at the massive Homestead-Miami Speedway. But his praise came with a warning about this November’s elections.

“He better do what’s right for the community,” said Garza, 70, himself a former migrant labourer. “If not, he can lose.”
Across the country – from California’s lush Central Valley to suburban Denver to Curbelo’s district of strip malls, farms and the laid-back Florida Keys – moderate Republicans like Curbelo are under hefty pressure to buck their party’s hardline stance on immigration. After years of watching their conservative colleagues in safe districts refuse to budge, the GOP middle is fighting back – mindful that a softer position may be necessary to save their jobs and GOP control of the House.
“Members who have priorities and feel passionate about issues can’t sit back and expect leaders” to address them, Curbelo said. “Because it doesn’t work.”

Curbelo, 38, is seeking a third term from a district that stretches from upscale Miami suburbs to the Everglades and down to eccentric Key West. Seventy percent of his constituents are Hispanic and nearly half are foreign-born. Those are among the highest percentages in the nation, giving many of them a firsthand stake in Congress’ immigration fight.
Curbelo and Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., whose Modesto-area district thrives on agriculture powered by migrant workers, have launched a petition drive that would force House votes on four immigration bills, ranging from liberal to conservative versions. Twenty-three Republicans have signed on; two shy of the number needed to succeed, assuming all Democrats jump aboard.

Another supporter of the rare rebellion by the usually compliant moderates is Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., and a former Marine who learned Spanish when his district was redrawn to include Denver’s diverse eastern suburbs. In an interview, Coffman expressed frustration over waiting nearly 18 months for House Speaker Paul Ryan to deliver on assurances that Congress would address the issue.
“He was always telling me, `It will happen, it will happen.’ I never saw it happen,” Coffman said. “One cannot argue that those of us who signed onto this discharge petition didn’t give leadership time.” AP

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