Thousands upon thousands of Puerto Ricans have landed in Florida in the months since Hurricane Maria battered their island. They have simple priorities, but complicated needs.
They need a place to live and a way to make a living. They want to get their kids enrolled in local schools and find out if they have to take a test to do so. Maybe they were a real estate agent in Puerto Rico and wanted to know if their license transferred over; or a medical professional with great job prospects at local hospitals if they could just improve their English; or a bilingual teacher who needed help navigating the application process.
Over the last several months many of these transplants learned about a program called “Welcome to Florida.” They may have heard about it at church, or on Spanish-language radio, or from a friend. Whatever the case, “Welcome to Florida” was offering free English classes and help with many of the logistics of establishing a new life on the mainland.
You might expect that this outreach was being underwritten by a progressive group, but you would be wrong. “Welcome to Florida” is a project from the Koch-funded LIBRE Institute. . . .
It’s a smart move, politically. Thousands of Puerto Ricans settling in Florida represents a rare opportunity to mint new voters in America’s quintessential swing state. And it’s one of the rare cases where conservatives are being proactive about bringing new voters into their tent.