March 22, 2017

PolitiFact Florida: Is the Center for Immigration Studies a hate group?

MIA ban four mhd

@amysherman1 @politifactfl

The term "hate group" usually brings to mind groups like the Ku Klux Klan, which has targeted African-Americans for centuries, or Neo-Nazi groups that admire Adolf Hitler.

Not think tanks that focus on immigration.

Yet the Southern Poverty Law Center recently included the Center for Immigration Studies on its annual list of hate groups.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post, the Center for Immigration Studies’ executive director, Mark Krikorian, argued that the label is misplaced and intended to suppress their viewpoint.

"The wickedness of the SPLC's blacklist lies in the fact that it conflates groups that really do preach hatred, such as the Ku Klux Klan and Nation of Islam, with ones that simply do not share the SPLC's political preferences," he wrote.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s designation hasn’t gone unnoticed. In January, House Republicans in the Florida Legislature invited Krikorian to speak about refugees. House Democrats walked out of the hearing in protest.

PolitiFact has quoted Krikorian or other officials at his center in multiple articles about immigration. After reading Krikorian’s editorial -- in which he said the Southern Poverty Law Center’s complaints were trivial -- we decided to review the evidence for ourselves.

We found the case against the center is based on some of its associations rather than its current work.

But we want readers to review the evidence for themselves. Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

March 16, 2017

Fact-checking Trump's immigration, health care claims in Nashville

TrumpNashvillerally

@laurenfcarroll @miriamvalverde

President Donald Trump went to Nashville to commemorate the 250th birthday of the populist 19th century President Andrew Jackson on March 15.

He delivered a campaign-style rally speech, repeating misleading talking points about the Affordable Care Act and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but he was on point about decreases in illegal immigration.

Here’s a recap of what Trump said, fact-checked and with context.

Keep reading from PolitiFact.

March 15, 2017

PolitiFact Florida: Is being in the United States unlawfully a crime?

Sancprotestoutsidecohall

via @loujacobson

As Florida House members took up a bill that would increase penalties for certain violent crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, participants noted a fundamental but often overlooked issue in the overall immigration debate: If you are in the United States illegally, does your mere presence in this country mean that you have committed a crime?

It first came up in comments by Ingrid M. Delgado, associate for social concerns for the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops. She had come to the Florida House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice on March 15, 2017, to testify against HB 83, a bill sponsored by Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, that would heighten the penalties for certain violent offenses -- including sexual battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, murder, and the use of a destructive device such as a bomb -- if the defendant was in the country illegally.

Delgado said, "Unlawful presence is not a crime. It is a civil violation."

A few minutes later, Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, spoke in favor of the bill, saying she wanted to remind her colleagues about the legal status of the people the law targets.

"It amazes me, honestly, that we've even been talking about this as long as we have," she said. "I feel like in the midst of this, something has gotten lost that is a crucial, main point. And that is the fact that we're talking about people who are here illegally. That means that, legally, they are breaking the law."

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Miami Herald photo of a protest outside of Miami-Dade County Hall related to the county's policy on federal immigration detainers.

Lawmaker: House should 'put Florida Supreme Court in position of telling us that we're wrong'

Florida Legislature (4)


@ByKristenMClark

Some Florida House Republicans have issued a challenge to the state’s top court — saying if the Legislature moves forward and enacts a constitutionally questionable measure seeking to impose harsher penalties on undocumented immigrants, then the Florida Supreme Court should prove them wrong.

HB 83, which passed its first House committee Wednesday, is rife with questions about its constitutionality because it subjects undocumented immigrants convicted of severe crimes to enhanced charges — and potentially longer prison sentences — solely on the basis of their immigration status.

But some House Republicans said a bill’s potential unconstitutionality shouldn’t be a factor in whether lawmakers approve it.

“I would submit to you that perhaps we sit in here one day and the Florida Supreme Court has told us this vote is wrong,” Tampa Republican Rep. James Grant said, but “I would encourage all of us to put the Florida Supreme Court in the position of telling us that we are wrong.”

More here.

Photo credit: State Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa. Florida House.

March 14, 2017

Broward Commission delays action on resolution related to Trump sanctuary order

Trumpfortlaud

@amysherman1

Fearing that President Donald Trump will cut off funding to Broward, the county commission considered a resolution Tuesday arguing that it is in compliance with federal law and isn't a so-called sanctuary county for undocumented immigrants.

The commission tabled the vote after immigrant and Democratic activists called for its defeat and commissioners couldn't agree on the wording or whether such a resolution is necessary.

The resolution proposed by Mayor Barbara Sharief, a Democrat, stated that the county has never labeled itself a "sanctuary." The resolution called for the county attorney to take legal action if the county is denied federal funds based on immigration policies. Some commissioners argued that the resolution is unnecessary since the county attorney already has the power to defend the county if necessary. The commission didn't set a future date to revisit the resolution.

Trump issued an executive order in January directing the Attorney General's office and the Department of Homeland Security to cut off grant funding from local jurisdictions that shield undocumented immigrants from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement. Broward expects to get funds this year through the U.S. Department of Justice funneled through the state. The grant criteria states that the county must prove it complies with Section 1373 of federal law which essentially bans governments from restricting federal access to information about a person's immigration status. Broward officials argue that the county already complies with the law.

There is no definition in federal law of sanctuary cities or counties which has left some communities scrambling to avert any such label. The Center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors restricting immigration laws, named six counties in Florida including Broward that have policies “limiting cooperation with ICE specifically by placing conditions on honoring immigration detainers.” (Miami-Dade County was previously on that list until the county changed its policy in response to Trump.)

Broward County never declared itself a sanctuary county but landed on that list because the Broward Sheriff's Office issued a policy in 2014 stating that personnel would only honor ICE detainers when they are accompanied by a warrant. That policy was issued following federal court rulings.

Broward officials are lobbying against a Florida house bill which passed a committee March 13 seeks to crack down on jurisdictions that pass such sanctuary policies. 

“Broward County has never adopted any law, any regulation, any practice, any custom — at all — limiting our cooperation with ICE officials, the federal government or anything having to do with enforcing federal policy,” said Edward Labrador, the county's intergovernmental affairs director, in Tallahassee Monday. 

In February, the Broward County Commission passed a resolution honoring diversity without mentioning sanctuary cities or counties. Some local governments in South Florida have passed or proposed resolutions declaring their facilities "safe zones" for undocumented immigrants.




 



Controversial 'sanctuary cities' bill advances in House

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@ByKristenMClark

Communities in Florida that are considered “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants, such as Broward and Palm Beach counties, would have to do away with those practices or risk fines and other penalties from the state, under controversial legislation that passed its first legislative committee on Monday.

If the bill becomes law, county and local law enforcement agencies would also be required — at their taxpayers’ cost, with no guarantee of reimbursement — to comply with federal immigration detention requests, which are currently only optional.

Although the proposal (HB 697) easily advanced out of the House Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee by a 9-5 vote, it drew unanimous opposition from at least 20 audience members who spoke — including immigrant advocates.

More here.

Photo credit: Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times

March 10, 2017

Miramar mayor proposes 'safe zone' policy in response to Trump immigration enforcement

Messamandclinton

@amysherman1

Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam has proposed that the city create a "safe zone" for undocumented immigrants in response to President Donald Trump's immigration ban.

Messam brought up his proposal during a March 8 commission meeting to require federal immigration agents to have a warrant to enter city-owned facilities and voluntary pre-kindergarten schools for immigration enforcement purposes.

"We want to make sure that our parents at least, regardless of their immigration status, that is one less fear that they have -- in regards to the prospect of their child being disrupted due to what we have seen going on across the country," Messam said at the meeting.

The commission didn't vote on his proposal but no one objected to Messam's request for city attorneys to draft the resolution. It wasn't clear when the commission will vote on the resolution but the next meeting is March 29.

The city resolution follows a vote earlier this week by the Broward school board to become a safe zone for immigrant students and their parents and the Miami-Dade school board plans to vote on a similar resolution March 15. Broward County approved a resolution showing support for diversity without mentioning immigration enforcement or creating any sanctuary policy. 

Such safe zone policies being pursued by Broward politicians, many of them Democrats, are in response to immigration enforcement actions and promises by Trump

The safe zone policies may not lead to any practical changes for federal officials because many such facilities aren't known for immigration raids -- U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement already has policies that generally protect school sites from enforcement actions. But the policies allow politicians to go on record opposing Trump's immigration plans.

Messam, the son of Jamaican immigrants, was elected in 2015 as mayor in Miramar, a city where about 44 percent of the population is foreign born. A Democrat, Messam was a surrogate to Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign in Florida and South Carolina.

Photo by Gregory F. Reed of former President Bill Clinton, center, and Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam, right, attending a September meeting of faith and community leaders at the Miramar Cultural Center and a tour of city hall.

March 09, 2017

Curbelo files new DREAM Act in Congress

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@PatriciaMazzei

Bolstered by the White House’s apparent interest in protecting at least one group of unauthorized immigrants, Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Thursday re-filed legislation that would allow people brought illegally as children to remain in the country.

The “Recognizing America's Children Act” would offer an eventual path to U.S. citizenship to immigrants who entered illegally before Jan. 1, 2012, and were 16 years old or younger.

The legislation is essentially a new version of the DREAM Act, which failed in the Senate in 2010. Curbelo first proposed the bill last June, as he was running for reelection to Florida’s swing 26th congressional district.

He said he’s bringing it back because President Donald Trump, in his executive order on immigration, left in place the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — known as DACA — which shields so-called DREAMers from deportation.

“This White House has sent a very strong message by preserving the executive order that protects these young people,” Curbelo said in an interview with the Miami Herald. “We know that they’ve been very aggressive when it comes to immigration policy, so it certainly stands out that they have left the DACA executive order untouched.”

More here.

Photo credit: José A. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald

March 01, 2017

Miami-Dade's Trump-friendly detention policy faces first legal challenge

James Lacroix mugshotvia @DavidOvalle305

Haitian national James Lacroix pleaded guilty Tuesday to the minor crime of driving with a suspended license, ending his criminal case after more than seven weeks spent behind bars.

But Lacroix didn’t walk out of a Miami-Dade jail.

Instead, jailers kept him in custody under the county’s controversial decision to detain immigrants slated for deportation by federal authorities, even if their sentences have been finished. Lacroix has been ordered deported to Haiti, not for any violent crimes, but apparently because of a long history of driving without a valid license

In the latest ripple effect from the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration, a Miami-Dade judge has set a Thursday hearing to explore the legal authority the county jail has for keeping Lacroix behind bars.

It will be the first legal challenge to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s much-derided decision to begin cooperating with federal agents who have been empowered under President Donald Trump to dramatically step up deportations — actions that have generated protests across the nation, including in Miami-Dade, where Gimenez in January cited the threat of losing federal funding as a reason to cooperate with immigration agents.

“We don’t believe the federal government has the right to tell the state of Florida to spend money to keep someone jailed, to spend money to enforce their unconstitutional policies,” Lacroix’s lawyers, Philip Reizenstein and Kristen Kawass, said in a statement.

More here.

February 28, 2017

At least one Miami Republican is 'ready' to work with Trump on immigration reform

Cuba_Deal_MJO_07
@PatriciaMazzei

When news broke Tuesday that President Trump had told television news anchors he might be open to comprehensive immigration reform legislation -- including granting legal status to some of the unauthorized immigrants already in the country -- one Miami Republican steeped in the issue quickly praised the president and offered to help.

"I am very encouraged by President Trump's recent comments on immigration reform," Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said in a statement.

In 2013, Diaz-Balart helped lead the effort to pass immigration reform in the House, but the legislation was never taken up for a vote.

"It is no secret our country has a broken immigration system," Diaz-Balart continued. "I have said many times that we must come together from both sides of the aisle to find a commonsense solution on immigration reform. It is extremely disappointing that many from both the left and right extremes are quick to criticize the President's willingness to work with Congress to fix our immigration system. This kind of political gimmickry is unnecessary and unhelpful to a bipartisan, legislative solution.

"I continue to believe this legislation must strengthen our borders, adhere to the rule of law, offer a permanent and humane solution to those living in the shadows, bolster our economy, and modernize our antiquated visa system. I remain committed and ready to work with the White House and congressional colleagues from both sides of the aisle."

Photo credit: Matias J. Ocner, Miami Herald