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WASHINGTON (News-Press) -- Shut down the government over immigration?

Sen. Marco Rubio hinted at the possibility this past week in an interview with a conservative website. Asked about the possibility President Barack Obama will continue to defer the deportations of thousands of young undocumented immigrants, the Florida Republican made a connection between that policy and the budget.

"There will have to be some sort of a budget vote or a continuing resolution vote, so I assume there will be some sort of a vote on this," Rubio told Breitbart.com. "I'm interested to see what kinds of ideas my colleagues have about using funding mechanisms to address this issue."

Democrats pounced.

"That can only mean one thing: Rubio's willing to risk another government shutdown," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, wrote in a column for the liberal Huffington Post web site. "If Republicans in Congress can't come together to pass common-sense immigration reform, the president will do what's best for our country — and he won't be held hostage to Marco Rubio and the GOP's demands."

The federal government shut its doors last year for 16 days when lawmakers were unable to pass a spending bill to keep the lights on. Republicans took the brunt of the blame.

Rubio spokesman Alex Conant accused Democrats of intentionally distorting the senator's statements "to raise money and rally their base" just as they've been trying to do with the "non-existent threat" to impeach Obama.

"We are not going to shut down the government," Conant said. "If the president goes ahead with an executive action on immigration, we would expect there would be a vote in the Senate on it, possibly in the context of a larger budget debate. But we are not going to shut down the government."

Florida refugees

The vast majority of unaccompanied minors who enter the U.S. illegally do so by crossing the Southwest border into Texas. But more than 10 percent have wound up in Florida so far this year, federal figures show.

Of the 37,477 children who entered from Jan. 1 through July 31, 3,809 were sent to Florida to stay with relatives or guardians while their fate is determined. Most come from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, sent by families fearful of violence facing the children there.

Unaccompanied children caught by U.S. immigration authorities are turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Federal law requires the office feed, shelter, and provide medical care to the children while it searches the country for sponsors (usually family members) as the children await immigration proceedings.

The flood of children in recent years has become a flashpoint of the immigration debate being waged on Capitol Hill.

Democrats, including President Barack Obama, generally support letting children stay in the U.S. while they make their case to remain. Republicans generally want them deported back to their home countries, saying they strain state and federal services. Republicans also say letting the children stay isn't fair to people who have waited years to come to the U.S.

The Obama administration says it's working with states to ease the burden the children place on local programs.

Only Texas (5,280), New York (4,244) and California (3,909) accepted more children than Florida. Miami-Dade is the county with the most refugees, with 1,127, followed by Palm Beach (785), Broward (356), Lee (232) and Orange (216), according to federal data.

Governor interrupted

If Charlie Crist beats Rick Scott, he wouldn't just be the first governor of Florida to hold the job as a Republican and a Democrat.

He'd be the first chief executive of the state to serve two non-consecutive terms in more than a century.

You probably knew the last — and only — governor to serve two interrupted terms was Democrat William Bloxham. He served a four-year term from 1881-1885 and then 1897-1901, according to Smart Politics, a non-partisan political news site run by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota.

Florida did not allow governors to serve consecutive terms for most of its 123 years, prior to changes made in 1968 to the state constitution, according to the web site. Since then, four have done so: Democrats Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, and Lawton Chiles, and Republican Jeb Bush.

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