Economy more pressing issue at hand

Freedom New Mexico

Leave it to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is known to have an old-fashioned hankering to stamp out illicit drugs, to keep pushing for a solution to yet another problem that’s already well on the road to solving itself.

The problem: illegal immigration.

Gov. Scott told The Associated Press he hopes the Florida Legislature will pass a law next year cracking down on illegal immigrants. Lawmakers failed to pass an immigration bill during their last session. “If somebody is in our country illegally and they’re violating our laws,” he said, “we ought to be able to ask them if they’re legal or not.”

The governor’s belief that illegal immigration is a dire threat that requires a statewide remedy is out of step with today’s reality.

Check out this tidbit from the same AP report: “Local law enforcement officers are already allowed to ask the status of immigrants they arrest, but (the immigrants) don’t have to answer. And the Obama administration recently made mandatory its Secure Communities program, which requires local law enforcement officers to check the fingerprints of those they arrest against Department of Homeland Security immigration databases.”

And check out The New York Times’ recent assessment of illegal immigration from Mexico, which the newspaper said has “sputtered to a trickle.” In a July 16 editorial, we noted that Mexico’s declining birth rate and expanding job opportunities, coupled with the stagnant U.S. economy, have slowed the flow of immigrants across the border.

So. Illegal immigration has declined, and local law enforcers already are empowered to quiz immigrants they arrest about their status and check their fingerprints. Yet Gov. Scott is still jabbing the immigration panic button and wants more laws on the books.

We’d suggest the governor spend more time trying to repair Florida’s economy. The state’s jobless rate is stuck at 10.7 percent — way above the national average — despite his promise to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

We are aware that in years past some folks have used illegal immigration as a convenient excuse, arguing that immigrants were responsible for high unemployment among U.S. citizens.