immigration

Bipartisan passion for Dreamers

IMG_2516Tallahassee insiders have long joked that there’s a dumpster outside of the nation’s Capitol reserved for memorials passed the state Legislature.

But that didn’t stop Florida state Sen. René García, a Hialeah Republican who was born in Cuba, from making an impassioned plea to Congress to do something to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The Obama-era policy protects from deportation individuals who were brought, as children, to the U.S. illegally by their parents.

President Donald Trump announced in December he was terminating the policy, which could put 800,000 DACA recipients in danger of deportation.

Sen. Daphne Campbell, a Haitian-born Miami Democrat, is sponsoring a memorial (SB 882), which sends a message to Congress to do something to protect the hundreds of thousands of children who entered the country when they were kids.

Tuesday’s debate about the memorial came amid discussions in Washington about immigration reform, and raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents throughout the country, including in Florida.

“Why send them back to a country that they have never known? Would we be having this discussion if the kids came from Norway or a similar country where the inhabitants are mostly white?” Campbell, said, referring to Trump’s reported characterization of her homeland and African countries as “shitholes.” Trump allegedly said the U.S. should welcome more immigrants from nations like Norway.

Garcia, who is running for Congress, weighed in after the committee heard from supporters of the memorial, including a handful of foreign-born students advocating on behalf of their DACA-eligible friends.

Patrick Ariel Sabillon said he moved to Texas to be with his father after “multiple dead bodies were found in my elementary school” in Nicaragua.

“I can’t explain to you guys the anxiety, the sadness, the fear and the anger that the immigration crackdown has brought to our communities,” Sabillon, a 20-year-old Florida State University student, said. “People are worried about going to the market.”

Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze, said he thought it was “inappropriate” to consider the memorial while Congress is debating the issue.

But García said that’s exactly why the Legislature needed to send Congress a strong message of support for Dreamers, who, he said, are exactly the kind of immigrants the nation wants.

“You went to school. You did your part. You did your job. You stayed out of trouble . and yet now, because of politics, you (face the) potential of being deported,” he said before the committee’s 3-2 vote in favor of the proposal. Broxson and Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, voted against the measure.

“The Dreamers are those that understand what it is to be an American. The Dreamers are the ones that are dreaming to have a better life … not only for their families, but for their communities. That’s why it is so critical that we send this message back. That’s why it’s so important that we say stop. Stop with the Democrats, with the Republicans.”

Congress to has to act, García said.

“Can President Trump sign an executive order? Absolutely… But it has to be Congress that has the intestinal fortitude, Democrats and Republicans … and put aside the next election cycle and fix it once and for all.”

It’s unlikely the House will approve a similar measure. The chamber on Friday passed a controversial plan that would ban “sanctuary” cities in the state.

Black lawmakers condemn Trump’s alleged “s—hole countries” comment

image1(1)A host of legislative Democrats joined together Friday morning, condemning alleged comments by President Donald Trump, in which he reportedly questioned why the United States should accept immigrants from “s—hole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and countries in Africa.

During a news conference in the Capitol this morning, members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus also called on Governor Rick Scott to take an even stronger stance in his rebuke of the president.

“We are appealing to all elected officials, to stand united with us in our demand for an open apology from President Trump to the American people. We are a nation of immigrants,” state Sen. Daphne Campbell, a Miami Democrat who was born in Haiti, said at the presser, adding that Trump’s remarks reeked of racism.

According to numerous reports, the president also suggested that the U.S. should welcome more immigrants from countries like Norway.

“It appears President Trump does not have an issue with immigrants. He has an issue with immigrants of color,” Campbell said.

The event took place hours after early morning tweets from the president, in which he denied making the remarks. Trump, however, did not specify what he said at Thursday’s White House meeting centered on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama-era policy that focused on children who are brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents or guardians.

“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!” the president tweeted.

Late Thursday, Scott released a statement calling Trump’s remarks wrong after Campbell called on the governor to denounce his pal Trump’s alleged comments.

Florida is home to more Haitians than any other state, and Trump’s decision to end temporary protective status for Haitians could affect nearly 30,000 Haitians now residing in the Sunshine State.

Sen. Perry Thurston, chairman of the black caucus, called Trump an “ignorant bigot.”

“He’s embarrassing and he’s a disgrace to the presidency,” Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, said. “We understand Donald Trump, believe me. We will stand with our brothers and sisters from Haiti, African and all other bleephole countries in fighting Trump’s racist views that creep into his policies.”

The outcry over the president’s remarks comes just days before the Monday holiday celebrating the late civil rights icon, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Former Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa Democrat and civil rights leader, said that young people need to understand that the civil rights fight isn’t over.

“You might be living good and making good money, but baby nothing has changed in that regard. It’s time to demand respect, and demand that the people we elect stand up beside us and with us, and respect us,” Joyner said.

 

Trump denies vulgar comments about Haiti and Africa (plus reax)

1600px-LodalenPresident Donald Trump took to Twitter this morning to deny reports that he called Haiti, El Salvador and Africa “shithole countries” during a bipartisan White House meeting yesterday focused on immigration reform.

“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!” Trump (@realDonaldTrump) tweeted at 7:28 a.m.

According to several news outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Trump reportedly questioned why the United States should accept immigrants from “s—hole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and countries in Africa.

Here’s an excerpt from the LA Times story:

“What do we want Haitians here for?” the president asked, according to the people briefed. “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? Why do we want all these people from shithole countries?”

The president added: “We should have people from places like Norway.”

Trump’s alleged comments sent Twitter ablaze and stuffed email in-boxes with reactions from politicos and others blasting the president, who recently decided to do away with Temporary Protected Status for Haitians displaced by a devastating earthquake that ravaged the island nation in 2010.

Here’s a selection of reactions, topped by our pick for the most entertaining of the lot.

Michael Calderin, Vice-President of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, released a statement late last night, taking a swipe at the president’s Palm Beach estate, Mar-A-Lago:

It may come as some surprise that the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida understands President Trump’s recent inflammatory comment.

Let us provide some context. After all, as Floridians, we have been living in the presence of a shithole for years. And the disgust has grown exponentially over the last year, particularly as it was occupied for nearly a quarter of 2017 by the most rancid, foul-mouthed person known around the world.

We urge the residents of Palm Beach County to strongly object to the shitholes that are Mar-a-Lago, its owner, and his guests. With the irreversible damage being caused, we can only hope there are grounds for legal action to rid this blight from our otherwise beautiful land.

Trump’s alleged comments drew a rebuke from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who’s had a longtime bromance with the part-time Florida man.

“If this report is true, it is absolutely wrong to say or think this. I do not think this way, nor do I agree with this kind of sentiment. I represent Florida, and we are an amazing melting pot where over 250 languages are spoken,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott’s reaction came in response to a press release from state Sen. Daphne Campbell, a Miami Democrat who was born in Haiti, calling on the governor to denounce Scott.

Other Florida politicos piled on, blasting the president for dissing Haiti. Florida is home to more Haitian emigres than any other state in the nation.

“As an American, I apologize for the incentive, disparaging remarks made by our President. Eight years ago today well over 100,000 souls were lost in Haiti to a massive earthquake. My prayers are with you all & I thank you for your continued contributions to our country” — Tweet from state Sen. René Garcia, a Hialeah Republican running for Congress.

This tweet from U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtenin, another Republican from Miami-Dade County:

“Told @CBSMiami: no country deserves to be called a “shithole.” The #USA stands for inclusion and opportunity, not condescension. Someone should tell @POTUS he’s the President and encourage him to start acting like it.” — @RosLehtenin at 10:21 p.m. Thursday.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Broward County Democrat, issued this statement issued last night:

“Trump’s vile comments are outrageous, unacceptable and continue a disturbing pattern of racist remarks. He repeatedly sews seeds of racism which foment horrendous, discriminatory actions. No American can be proud of a President who speaks this way. Trump’s Republican colleagues must denounce his comments and stand up against bigotry and intolerance or be guilty of sanctioning them.”

And from the NAACP:

“As our nation fights to move forward, our President falls deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of racism and xenophobia. The United States’ position as a moral leader throughout the world has been thoroughly damaged by the continuous lowbrow, callous and unfiltered racism repeatedly espoused by President Trump.  His decision to use profanity to describe African, Central American and Caribbean countries is not only a low mark for this president, it is a low point for our nation. This President’s failure to grasp simple ideas of inclusion and maturity is an open sore on our democracy that continues to fester. It is clear that the president wants to return America to its ugly past of white supremacy where immigration laws as well as all laws of society only favored individuals from European nations and European ancestry. In fact, the President himself benefitted from those racially biased laws when his ancestors immigrated to this nation. Yet today, he wants to force the American public to pay billions to build a wall to block off our southern neighbors in exchange for the return of protections for DACA that were already guaranteed to immigrants before he came to office. As we head into 49th NAACP Image Awards being held on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Holiday for the first time to honor his legacy, we realize that the Bull Connor of our day is none other than the President of our nation. As King fought then, we fight today against those seeking to implement slicker and newer forms of racial segregation.

We’ll be back later with reaction to Trump’s denial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: Campbell calls on Scott to denounce Trump “racist remarks”

UPDATE: Gov. Rick Scott blasted Trump’s comments in the following statement:
“If this report is true, it is absolutely wrong to say or think this. I do not think this way, nor do I agree with this kind of sentiment. I represent Florida, and we are an amazing melting pot where over 250 languages are spoken.

“I work every day to make this the most welcoming state for everyone – Haitians, Cubans, Venezuelans, and others from all around the world that call Florida home. I’m incredibly proud of our diversity.” – Governor Rick Scott

President Donald Trump sparked outrage Thursday after reportedly referring to Africa and Haiti as “shithole countries” during a bipartisan meeting focused on immigration reform.

Here’s an excerpt from a report by The Los Angeles Times:

“What do we want Haitians here for?” the president asked, according to the people briefed. “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? Why do we want all these people from shithole countries?”

Florida state Sen. Daphne Campbell, a Haitian-born Democrat who lives in Miami-Dade County, quickly jumped on news reports of what the president said, calling on Gov. Rick Scott to denounce his pal Trump’s “racist comments.”
“The President’s ongoing war against immigrants appears to be solely directed toward those immigrants of color,” Campbell said in a press release. “I am appalled and disgusted that the man who stands as the symbol of a nation once offering refuge and sanctuary to all immigrants is doing his best to say: ‘non-whites need not apply.’ Governor Scott needs to denounce these remarks immediately on behalf of the people of Florida.”
Here’s more from Campbell’s press release:
Senator Campbell, who has been an outspoken critic of the uncertainty exhibited by the Trump Administration over whether and how long to extend any temporary status thus far granted to these refugees, said that the governor, despite his longstanding support of the President and his policies, cannot stand by in silence.
“Immigrants are the backbone of this nation, and this state,” she said. “Over the centuries, they have fled famine, political unrest, and tyrants, risking their lives to begin anew in this country. Governor Scott owes every immigrant, and every refugee in this state an obligation to condemn President Trump’s loathsome remarks.”

Florida is home to more Haitians than any other state, and Trump’s decision to end temporary protective status for Haitians could affect nearly 60,000 Haitians now residing in the Sunshine State.

Poll: Florida needs to improve race relations efforts

A new poll shows Floridians are divided about undocumented immigrants but are growing increasingly critical of the state’s efforts towards improving race relations.

“In a state with growing minority and immigrant populations, Floridians are growing more critical of their State government’s efforts to improve race relations. Floridians support protecting religious and educational facilities from attacks by hate groups and of requiring employers to check the immigrant status of new hires,” University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus, director of the USF-Nielsen Sunshine State survey, said in a release with the poll results this morning.

“Florida’s growth over the past four decades, fueled by people moving into the state from other states and countries, has transformed it into the nation’s third largest state. New arrivals, along with generational replacement, are constantly changing the state’s population makeup.

In this population flux, the 2017 USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey shows Floridians growing more critical of the State’s efforts to improve race relations. At the same time, Floridians are highly supportive of protecting religious and educational facilities from attacks by hate groups and of requiring employers to check the immigrant status of new hires. Opinions are more mixed, but negative, toward expanding rights and assistance to undocumented immigrants and creating safe spaces on college campuses for undocumented immigrant students.” — Susan MacManus

Corcoran hammers Senate on ‘sanctuary’ cities

Watchdog PAC, House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s political committee — expected to help an anticipated run by the Land O’ Lakes Republican for governor in 2018 — is also a tool for pushing the Senate.

In a video sponsored by the political committee posted online Friday, Corcoran called on the Senate to pass a bill — up in the House on Tuesday — to crack down on “sanctuary” cities.

https://twitter.com/richardcorcoran/status/926462299933696000/video/1

“It’s a national disgrace. It needs to stop,” Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, says in the video. “I led the fight to pass a bill to punish sanctuary cities, restrict their funds, and require law enforcement to cooperate with federal authorities.

“It was called the ‘Rule of Law Adherence Act.’ Now we need to get the Senate to pass it.”

The House proposal (HB 9) goes before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning. The appearance is the only stop for the bill, sponsored by House Public Integrity & Ethics Chairman Larry Metz.

The 21-page measure, in part, would bar local governments from having sanctuary policies, and would impose fines of up to $5,000 a day fines for each day a sanctuary policy was in effect. The legislation also directs law enforcement to support federal officials on immigration laws.

A similar measure in the Senate (SB 308) by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, has been assigned to the Judiciary and Rules committees.

During the 2017 session earlier this year, the House approved a bill (HB 697) aimed at ensuring local governments support immigration-enforcement efforts. The Senate never head a similar measure.

By Jim Turner.

Triple-shot of storms prompt Nelson, other Dems to seek DACA extension

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and more than three dozen other Senate Democrats are asking President Donald Trump‘s administration to extend an Oct. 5 deadline for “Dreamers” to renew their status, due to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

“These major hurricanes significantly disrupted day to day living and operations in these states and territories,” the lawmakers, led by Nelson and two others, wrote in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke today. “It would be appropriate for the government to extend the October 5, 2017 deadline nationwide to allow individuals adequate time to meet the government’s recent request.”

Trump and his administration announced earlier this month that the president intends to do away with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, a policy launched by President Barack Obama aimed at allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to remain in the country.

The Trump policy would allow some “Dreamers” currently enrolled in DACA to apply for renewal.

“Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still working to recover and will be for some time,” the lawmakers wrote. “An extension of the deadline would provide DACA recipients more time to collect the $495 application fee and gather the necessary documents to accurately complete the renewal application.”

Florida, where Hurricane Irma knocked out power for two-thirds of the state and resulted in historic flooding on both coasts, is home to an estimated 30,000 Dreamers.