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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman July 2, 2014

Scott opposed amnesty but supported in-state tuition

Rick Scott portrayed himself as tough on illegal immigration during his 2010 Republican primary campaign for governor.

After he won the general election, Scott quickly broke two immigration related promises: to bring an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida and to require all Florida employers to use a federal E-Verify system. Ultimately, he simply stopped talking about the Arizona law.

However, Scott did keep one immigration promise early in his tenure: fighting "amnesty."

Just weeks before he took office, then Gov.-elect Scott spoke against a DREAM Act bill in Congress that critics said amounted to amnesty for some illegal immigrants, and he made similar comments to the press during his first year in office. That was enough to earn Scott a Promise Kept in January 2012.

Since then, amnesty was back in the news as federal legislators considered an immigration bill. In 2013, Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio was part of a bipartisan group that introduced legislation with a 13-year pathway to legal status and eventually citizenship. Rubio claimed that his bill wasn't amnesty -- which PolitiFact ruled Half True.

The bill passed the Senate but stalled in the Republican-led House.

Scott addressed Rubio's bill when asked about it by the press. "I think Senator Rubio has really done a great job focusing on the discussion, making sure we have an immigration policy that works," he said. "I'm happy that he's really focused on securing our borders and having a policy that we all understand."

Scott made those comments shortly after he vetoed a bill to give drivers' licenses to so-called "DREAMers" -- those who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

In 2014, House speaker Will Weatherford pushed for a bill to allow children who came to the U.S. illegally to get in-state tuition for college. The bill also included a priority of Scott's: getting rid of the up to 15 percent tuition differential that allowed universities to hike up costs. Ultimately, Scott signed the bill.

But lowering tuition for these students isn't the same as legalizing their status.

Numbers USA, a group that advocates for low immigration, considers in-state tuition a "reward and incentive for illegal immigration but not as a kind of amnesty," said the group's executive director Roy Beck.

"Generally, we reserve the term 'amnesty' for actions that offer legal status and/or work permits to people who have violated immigration laws," Beck said.

A Scott campaign spokesman declined to comment when we asked if Scott still opposes amnesty and if he could point to any examples of him fighting amnesty since 2012.

As for our rating, Scott's promise to "fight amnesty for lawbreakers" was so broad and vague, he didn't have to do much to keep it. Scott toned down his rhetoric on illegal immigration, but he continues to oppose it.

We're keeping our rating on this promise the same: Promise Kept.


Our Sources

PolitiFact, "Rick Scott dropped push for Arizona-style law," May 6, 2011

PolitiFact, "Bill McCollum says Florida police can check the immigration status of people they arrest," Aug. 9, 2010

PolitiFact,"No E-verify requirement this year," May 6, 2011

PolitiFact, "Sen. Marco Rubio says immigration bill not amnesty," April 17, 2013

Interview, Roy Beck, executive director Numbers USA, June 17, 2014

Interview, Greg Blair, spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott's campaign, June 25, 2014

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman January 5, 2012

Scott opposed DREAM Act

The Scott-O-Meter is tracking three different promises made by Rick Scott related to immigration. Scott pledged to bring an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida, to require all Florida employers to use a federal E-Verify that checks a person's immigration status and to oppose amnesty for people living in the United States illegally.

The first two promises have so far been rated Promise Broken by the Scott-O-Meter.

But what about Scott's broader promise to "oppose amnesty?"

The issue is largely a federal one -- which means Scott is hamstrung by what he can do -- but the governor is on record opposing the federal DREAM Act, which critics say would amount to amnesty for some.

The legislation, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2010 but died in the U.S. Senate, would have allowed some children of undocumented immigrations to become legal residents.

Hours before the House vote, then Gov.-elect Scott told reporters he opposed the act.

"I'm against the DREAM Act," he said during a tour of the Port of Miami. "Why? I don't believe in amnesty. ... I believe the federal government needs to secure our borders. I also believe we need to have a logical immigration policy. I don't believe in amnesty. I also believe that if you are stopped in our state and you are violating our laws, just like I get asked for my ID if I were stopped, you should be asked if you're legal or not. We have to be fair. We're a state of laws, we're a country of laws, and we have to abide by the law."

We contacted Scott's office on Dec. 9, 2011, to ask if he had made any other or more specific efforts to fight amnesty. Spokesman Lane Wright said he couldn't find anything specific related to amnesty but says that Scott often says in press gaggles that if anybody who is here illegally is caught committing a crime "we should have the ability to ask them if they are here legally."

The issue of amnesty is largely out of Scott's hands, but he did use to bully pulpit to oppose the federal DREAM Act, which critics say amounted amnesty for some illegal immigrants.

To us, that makes this immigration pledge a Promise Kept. 

Our Sources

Rick Scott for Florida website, Issues Page, Accessed Nov. 4, 2010

Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog, "Say No to Dream Act, Rick Scott says in Miami," Dec. 9, 2011

U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, "FY 2011: ICE announces year-end removal numbers, highlights focus on key priorities including threats to public safety and national security," Oct. 18, 2011

PolitiFact, "Rick Scott dropped push for Arizona-style law," May 6, 2011

PolitiFact, "Bill McCollum says Florida police can check the immigration status of people they arrest," Aug. 9, 2010

PolitiFact,"No E-verify requirement this year," May 6, 2011

Gov. Rick Scott's communications office, written responses to PolitiFact's questions on the Scott-O-Meter, Dec. 28, 2011

Interview, Nestor Yglesias, spokesman for ICE's South Florida office, Dec. 9, 2011

Interview, Lane Wright, spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott, Dec. 9, 2011

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