March 10, 2017

A likely candidate for Florida governor suggested invading Cuba. He says he was just trying to make a point

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@PatriciaMazzei

The panel of three local mayors discussing how the United States should approach doing business with Cuba was going predictably Friday until Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a likely Democratic candidate for Florida governor, brought up a word that, once upon a time in Miami, might have caused a political maelstrom: invasion.

“Why aren’t we discussing the invasion of the island?” Levine said.

He wasn’t endorsing the idea of a military incursion. A few moments earlier, Levine had argued that the best way to help Cubans themselves was to engage in open commerce with the island.

But he had no support for the expanded-business position from his colleagues, Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason and Doral Mayor J.C. Bermudez. Cason, a Republican former head of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana, had in fact espoused the opposite view, questioning the ethics of any business that would enrich the pockets of the Cuban military.

So Levine made his provocative remark, predicting that a U.S.-led military operation “would probably take 24 hours at best.”

A few people in the crowd chuckled. Neither Bermudez nor Cason took him seriously. Levine later told the Miami Herald he’d been trying to highlight — perhaps inartfully — that opponents of the Obama administration’s Cuba opening, like Cason, couldn’t offer any better solutions.

The surprising exchange reflected how much the conversation on Cuba has changed in Miami. The suggestion that American troops might land on Cuban shores — a failed strategy under former President John F. Kennedy — is now a laugh line. The question of what to do instead, however, remains difficult for local politicians to answer.

More here.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

March 09, 2017

Florida man claims he was shaken down for $1.15 million. Now he wants a refund.

Oceana

@joeflech & @nicknehamas

Beneath the hulking foundations of the Oceana Bal Harbour — a 28-story, $1.3 billion condo tower in one of South Florida’s wealthiest towns — a toxic fight festers between two of Bal Harbour’s most prominent figures over a $1.15 million check.

Extortionist! Liar! Puppet master! Bully!

Insults and now a lawsuit are flying between Doug Rudolph and Joseph Imbesi, once friends and neighbors who teamed up to sell the storied but decrepit Bal Harbour Club to an Argentine condo developer for $220 million in 2012. The spacious, beachfront property was a gem, but the pair made for bad bedfellows.

March 04, 2017

Miami Republicans rally for Trump at Tropical Park

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@amysherman1

Waving American flags and wearing red hats, about 2,000 people gathered at Tropical Park Saturday morning to show their support for President Donald Trump.

Displaying signs like Eva Sanchez’s “Latinos Support Trump — Build the Wall & Close the Border,’’ the crowd cheered on Trump’s immigration policies, which call for building a wall on the southern U.S. border with Mexico and temporarily banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Sudan — from entering the country. (A federal appeals court panel unanimously blocked the ban last month.)

The rallies were held across the nation Saturday to show support for Trump, whose disapproval ratings, hovering around 50 percent, are at historically high levels for a new president. In Palm Beach, where Trump is staying this weekend at his Mar-A-Lago estate, dueling rallies of pro- and anti-Trump supporters squared off with harsh words and curses, the Palm Beach Post reported.

Keep reading here.

 

Miami-Dade judge shoots down detention policy prompted by Trump sanctuary city order

Judgemilton

via @davidovalle305

Miami-Dade County — faced with threats by President Donald Trump to potentially cut off federal funding — violated the U.S. Constitution when it agreed to jail people slated for deportation, a judge ruled on Friday.

The judge’s decision was a rebuke of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s much-criticized decision to allow county jails to hold undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation by federal agents, a measure that has sparked protests and anger by many immigration advocates in South Florida.

Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch found that the policy violated the Tenth Amendment, which limits the reach of the federal government over states.
 
“Of course we must protect our country from the problems associated with unregulated immigration,” he wrote. “We must protect our country from a great many things; but from nothing so much as from the loss of our historic rights and liberties.”

He also wrote: “States cannot cede their reserved powers to the federal government — no, not even if they wish to do so.”

Keep reading here.

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 22, 2017

Suspicious package flagged at Curbelo's Capitol Hill office, all OK

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@PatriciaMazzei

Someone hand-delivered an anonymous envelope to Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo's Capitol Hill office Wednesday, prompting a brief investigation that ultimately cleared the suspicious letter.

The envelope was addressed to "Comrade Curbelo," according to one of the congressman's staffers. Instead of a return address, it listed, "Kremlin."

Curbelo wasn't in the office -- he's spending the congressional recess in the district -- but some of his aides were.

The Capitol Police checked out the letter "out of an abundance of caution," spokeswoman Eva Malecki said. "We were able to clear it without any threat."

Malecki added that Capitol Police deal with similar situations "on almost a daily basis."

"Capitol Police puts their lives on the line everyday to keep our Washington, D.C. offices safe, and today their training and professionalism showed," Curbelo said in a statement. "I'm grateful for their swift response and that my staff is safe."

Photo credit: Roberto Koltun, el Nuevo Herald

February 21, 2017

Miami-Dade mayor to take part in Fox News town hall on immigration

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@PatriciaMazzei

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is in Jacksonville Tuesday to participate in a televised Fox News town hall on immigration.

Gimenez is one of a handful of listed "newsmakers" at the event, including White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach. Immigration attorneys, law enforcement and an academic will also be on hand.

The mayor gained national attention after directing local jails to fulfill federal immigration detention requests of Miami-Dade inmates following President Trump's executive order threatening to cut funding from cities and counties that didn't fully comply with the feds.

The detention requests are voluntary and non-binding, but Gimenez -- and later, a majority of the county commission -- feared being labeled a "sanctuary" would risk funding for big-ticket public-transportation projects.

Fox will air the town hall, moderated by Martha MacCallum, at 7 p.m.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, Miami Herald

'You are not the enemy of the American people,' Ros-Lehtinen tells Miami media

Economic Impact of Immigrants 0140 JAI
@PatriciaMazzei

No reporter asked Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Tuesday morning about President Donald Trump's tweet last week blasting the news media as "the enemy of the American people."

But Ros-Lehtinen chose to kick off her first public appearance of the congressional recess by addressing the president's comments anyway.

"To the members of the press, I want to say thank you," Ros-Lehtinen said. "You are not the enemy of the American people."

The row of reporters lined in the wall in front of her at downtown Miami's Venture Hive, an entrepreneurship accelerator, remained silent. Ros-Lehtinen continued.

"You have a central role in our republic," said the congresswoman, who was born in Cuba. "We thank you for it -- even when you criticize public officials."

At the White House later, Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked if the president would consider revising his characterization of democracy's Fourth Estate.

"Certain outlets have gone out of their way to not be completely accurate and fair in their coverage," Spicer said. "He has a deep respect for the First Amendment, for the role of the press."

Photo credit: Jose I. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald

Miami lawmakers on Trump deportations: ‘You’re going to catch a lot of good people’

Economic+Impact+of+Immigrants+0190+JAI
@PatriciaMazzei

Two Miami Republicans in Congress immediately questioned on Tuesday the Trump administration’s new policy exposing nearly all immigrants in the country illegally to deportation.

U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen were speaking at an event highlighting the contribution of immigrants to Miami’s fledgling tech industry when the Department of Homeland Security announced its rules expanding the categories of people prioritized for removal — a reversal from the Obama administration, which had focused on deporting criminals.

“I worry that when you cast a wide net, you’re going to catch some criminals — but you’re going to catch a lot of good people who don’t have papers but they have not committed violent crimes,” said Ros-Lehtinen, who was born in Cuba. “This is a community that has been immigrant-friendly.”

Curbelo agreed, saying there is “broad consensus” to deport “people who are here with the goal of doing us harm.”

“I’d like to encourage the administration to keep the focus on deporting dangerous criminals,” said Curbelo, the son of Cuban immigrants. “Also, I would encourage the administration to try to keep families together as much as possible.”

The congressman did thank President Trump for not pushing to undo the protections offered to people brought into the country illegally as children by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

More here.

Photo credit: Jose I. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald

February 17, 2017

Fearing Trump, Miami-Dade commission drops county's "sanctuary" protections

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@PatriciaMazzei @doug_hanks

Miami-Dade commissioners on Friday backed Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s controversial decision to detain jailed inmates sought for deportation by the federal government, citing funding threats by President Donald Trump and ignoring hours of emotional testimony from residents who implored the board to stand up to the mayor.

With a 9-3 vote, commissioners stood behind Gimenez despite listening to scores of residents who spent the day at County Hall hoping to persuade them to protect Miami-Dade’s immigrant identity.

“Shame on you!” the crowd cried after the vote, hurling bits of paper at the dais and standing up to yell and stomp out of the chambers. “May God have mercy on your soul,” one woman hollered.

Voting to endorse Gimenez’s Jan. 26 directive were Chairman Esteban “Steve” Bovo, Vice Chairwoman Audrey Edmonson and Commissioners Bruno Barreiro, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Sally Heyman, Joe Martinez, Dennis Moss, Rebeca Sosa and Javier Souto. Voting against were Commissioners Daniella Levine Cava, Jean Monestime and Xavier Suarez. Commissioner Barbara Jordan was absent.

“Miami-Dade is not — has never considered itself — a sanctuary community” Gimenez said.

More here.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, Miami Herald staff