July 25, 2017

Was Adam Putnam, candidate for Florida governor, in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants?

PutnamannouncesPolkCoTBT

@amysherman1

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has largely had the Republican field for governor to himself, but the camp of one potential primary challenger has portrayed Putnam as soft on immigration and undocumented immigrants.

Tony Fabrizio, a pollster hired by Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran who may challenge Putnam in the 2018 primary, cast Putnam as not being conservative enough.

"He was for amnesty," Fabrizio told Politico July 10, while criticizing Putnam’s positions on a long list of issues.

That a-word can be a powerful weapon in a Republican primary. But we found that Putnam’s record on immigration can’t be boiled down to a soundbite.

As a member of Congress from 2001 to 2010, Putnam represented a Central Florida district that included agribusiness interests that wanted immigrant labor. Putnam supported legislation that would have benefitted undocumented farm workers, and he supported changing immigration laws which included a path to citizenship.

But he also took some stances that didn’t benefit undocumented immigrants, such as opposing the DREAM Act and increasing enforcement.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

June 29, 2017

Miami Republicans vote against bill to expand penalties on sanctuary cities

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@alextdaugherty 

Donald Trump campaigned as a tough-on-immigration Republican who would roll back Obama-era protections for undocumented immigrants.

But he can’t count on Miami’s Republican delegation in the House to back him on every facet of his immigration agenda.

The three Republicans, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen voted against a bill on Thursday that would deny federal law-enforcement funds to cities that choose not to comply with the federal government’s effort to enforce tougher immigration laws.

“I think this one is frankly too broad,” Diaz-Balart said.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 228-195. The Miami trio were among just seven Republicans who voted against the bill, which passed largely on party lines.

But the three Republicans did vote for another bill on Thursday trumpeted by Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that would expand criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants who commit serious crimes. The bill, dubbed Kate’s Law, is named after Kate Steinle, a San Francisco woman murdered by an illegal immigrant who was in the U.S. despite multiple deportations.

“I think most people would agree, you’re here in this country illegally, you’re doing terrible things, you’re just a bad apple. Let’s get rid of you,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “We have so many good people who want to come. That’s totally different than the sanctuary cities issue where so many of those folks are good people. That makes no distinction between whether they are good people or criminals. But in Kate’s Law we’re talking about criminals who have done horrible things. I don’t care if they’re American or from Central America. You’re bad, you’ve got to be in jail and you should be deported.”

Read more here. 

June 27, 2017

Fact-checking a falsehood about noncitizens voting

CoralGablesMarch2016MHvoting

@amysherman1

President Donald Trump’s unfounded allegations that millions voted illegally in 2016 is back in the news, with his supporters pointing to a new analysis that claims millions of undocumented immigrants voted in 2008.

Fox and Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt talked about it on the morning show recently.

“5.7 million — that’s how many illegal immigrants might have voted” in 2008, she said. Her comments referenced an article in the Washington Times, a conservative newspaper.

Trump has made repeated claims about massive voter fraud and election rigging, which we’ve debunked again and again and again and again and again and again and again (and we’ve debunked a claim by his spokesman Sean Spicer).

The claim made on “Fox and Friends” is based on an extrapolation of a controversial study that relied on a very small number of responses. Researchers involved in the underlying survey of voters have cautioned against using their data to reach conclusions about noncitizen voters.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Miami Herald photo of voters at the Coral Gables library in March 2016.

May 23, 2017

Trump plan to boost border patrol is in trouble

Border Patrol Recruitment
via @glenngarvin

When a U.S. Senate committee voted recently for a bill that would end lie-detector tests for some job applicants at the U.S. Border Patrol, it was a stark recognition that one of the major components of President Donald Trump’s plan to stop illegal immigration — a hiring surge of 5,000 new agents in the Border Patrol — is in serious trouble.

Snarled by a combination of bureaucratic torpor and the economic reality that not many qualified applicants find the job attractive, not only has the Border Patrol failed to make any of the new hires, it hasn’t even been able to fill the 1,700 positions it had open at the time of Trump’s January order to expand.

“Five thousand new agents, we all knew that was pie in the sky,” said Zack Taylor, head of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers. “They’ll be lucky if they can find 500.”

And an unusual coalition of immigration hawks and doves predicts that attempts at a speedy mass hiring will touch off a tidal wave of misconduct, corruption and even narcotrafficker spying within the Border Patrol as applicants with dubious skills and sinister intention take advantage of softer requirements.

“Given all the problems the Border Patrol has had finding new agents, we’ve been sort of unclear on how the Trump administration thought it was going to be able not to just quickly get the organization up to strength, but to hire 5,000 more,” said Joshua Breisblatt, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council, an immigrant-rights group.

“The answer is that they’re going to have to find ways to make it easier to hire agents, and that could easily end in disaster.”

More here.

Photo credit: Astrid Galvan, Associated Press

March 28, 2017

'Racist, bigoted' bills in Florida Legislature condemned by immigrant advocates

Immigrant1 032817

@ByKristenMClark

Dozens of immigrant advocates, including many from South Florida, descended on the Florida Capitol on Tuesday to send a message to the Republican-led Legislature: Back off.

“We are tired of having the same conversation with our legislators, as if we — as immigrants — do not contribute to the state of Florida,” said Francesca Menes, policy and advocacy director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “We contribute economically to the state of Florida. Our families are here, and we are here to stay.”

Representatives from the coalition and several other immigrant advocacy groups came together at a press conference, where they were joined by dozens of supporters, including Democratic lawmakers.

“[We are] standing here, demanding that we stop all of this, because our families are sick and tired of being threatened of being separated,” Menes said.

More here.

Photo credit: Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau

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.