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Florida senator demands apology from GOP over immigration remarks

State Rep. Luis Garcia, D-Miami sent a followup letter Monday to Senate President Mike Haridopolis and House Speaker Dean Cannon about comments their fellow Republican Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, made about Florida Hispanics last month during a legislative meeting.

Garcia writes:

Last week, I sent you a letter concerning the shameful remarks made by Sen. Alan Hays against Central Florida’s Hispanic residents during a Senate Redistricting Committee.

Your silence has been deafening. Your desire to leave my letter unanswered is of little concern to me. However, turning a blind eye to the disrespectful remarks made by Sen. Hays is troubling.

Hays said, “Before we design a district anywhere in the state of Florida for Hispanic voters, we need to ascertain that they are citizens of the United States. We all know there are many Hispanic-speaking people in Florida that are not legal. And I just don’t think it’s right that we try to draw a district that encompasses people that really have no business voting anyhow.”

In his latest letter, Garcia adds that he is “deeply concerned that as you prepare for this week’s Redistricting meetings, where Southeast Florida, home to Florida’s largest Hispanic population, will be the focus of discussions, that the uncalled for remarks by Sen. Hays against Hispanics remains unresolved.”

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, almost 440,000 Hispanics lived in Broward County, more than 1.6 million lived in Miami-Dade County and about 250,000 lived in Palm Beach County as of 2010. The Center (.pdf) adds that “there are 1.8 million eligible Hispanic voters in Florida—the third-largest Hispanic eligible-voter population nationally.”

Garcia’s letter concludes: “Leaving this matter unresolved will be the deepest sign of disrespect to the millions of Florida Hispanics who are eligible to vote and are part of the fabric that make our community what it is today.”

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