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Climate Risk And Immigration On Carlos Curbelo's Mind As He Weighs Run For Miami-Dade Mayor

Miami Herald
Former U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo in 2016.

Carlos Curbelo is considering a run for Miami-Dade Mayor in 2020. 

Miami native, son of Cuban exiles and former Republican Representative from Florida’s 26th District (2015-2018), Curbelo is no stranger to politics. In the November 2018 elections he went against Democrat Debbie Murcasel-Powell and executed one of the most expensive U.S. House races in the country. Mucarsel-Powell defeated Curbelo in a close and contested race.

With the first Democratic National Debate around the corner in Miami, where 20 candidates will take the stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center to discuss a series of topics, Curbelo spoke on Sundial about how candidates can appeal to Florida voters. 

Climate Risk

WLRN: Why has your party been so reluctant to grab onto (climate risk)?

CURBELO: What I tried to do while I was in Congress is to undo the polarization on this issue. I think back and this is not an excuse for Republicans but I think it certainly helps us understand why Republicans got to the point we are at now...After the 2000 election, which at the time had been the most divisive in a generation, Bush beat Al Gore. Al Gore was ridiculed and earned the disdain of a lot of people on the American right and then he became the face of American environmentalism and a lot of Republicans just assumed because that if this is his cause then we must oppose. That's how it all started and the politics started polarizing more and more every year. And in 2014 when I got to Congress and I started asking around... No one wanted to talk about it, few people even wanted to utter the words climate change. So we started the Climate Solutions Caucus and got a bipartisan dialogue going (I did that with Ted Deutch) and we made a lot of progress and today Republicans are in a much better place than they were four or five [years ago].

How do you think the Democrats' Green New Dealis going to play out?

It has made a contribution already. Because it has elevated the issue and it has people talking about climate change and about potential solutions. Now, having said that the Green New Deal is not a solution to reduce carbon pollution. It isn't even a bill. It's an idea -- it's a concept. It's an aspirational document. It uses the climate crisis to radically transform our economy and to move us closer to a an economy where the government is the protagonist. And that's something that I am strongly opposed to...


How do you see [the Homestead Detention Facility] playing out in the election? How do you think the American voter is going to react to how children are getting treated there?

The first thing that the government should do is open up the facility to members of the media. Immigration is going to be a topic in the 2020 election as it should be because again it seems like the political system will fail at achieving that bipartisan broad comprehensive solution that we need for immigration. And of course that includes smart investments in Central American countries where the option to stay and prosper in those countries will actually exist for people.

I wanted to ask you about Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Under the Trump administration TPS is ending soon for numerous groups: Haitians, Hondurans and many others. There has been conversation about giving TPS to Venezuelans. What do you think our responsibility is?

The solution was to give permanent status to all of the individuals that are today under the TPS category. Now, what the Trump administration says is true: these are temporary programs. People should not be living under these programs for 15 and 20 years. Once people have been in our country that long they should be afforded the opportunity to enter the legal immigration system and to become permanent residents. I do hope that Venezuelans are granted Temporary Protected Status. They clearly need it. They clearly cannot return to Venezuela. Venezuela has produced 4 million refugees. We can't expect that people will return and there are many Venezuelans living illegally in our country and they should be afforded an opportunity to get right with the law and probably to stay here.