July 03, 2018

Miami wants the 2020 Democratic convention. The county's top Democrat doesn't.

Democratic national convention crowd shot


Miami-Dade has drawn an unlikely opponent to the county landing the 2020 Democratic National Convention. On Monday, the chairman of the county Democratic party urged national Democrats to look elsewhere unless Miami-Dade reverses a 2017 decision to comply with President Donald Trump's crackdown on immigration detentions.

Addressing national Democratic chairman Tom Perez on Twitter, Miami-Dade chair Juan Cuba wrote: "It's with great regret that I urge you to remove Miami from contention until they reverse their anti-immigrant policies of cooperating with ICE to deport our friends & neighbors."

Miami-Dade is one of three finalists bidding for the Democratic National Convention to be held July 13-16, 2020. If Miami-Dade wins, it would be the first time in nearly 50 years that the county will host a major political convention. Leaders from the county and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach made their pitch to the Democrats Friday in Washington D.C. Next, a committee of Democrats will visit the finalist cities and begin contract negotiations. The DNC plans to announce the 2020 host city in January.

The other two finalists for the 2020 Democratic convention — Houston and Milwaukee — also accept the federal detention requests at the heart of Miami-Dade's immigration controversy. But those jurisdictions had accepted the requests during the Obama administration, too, sparing them the national spotlight that came to Miami-Dade when it was the first major metro area to change policies after the 2016 presidential election.

Days after Trump took office, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez reversed a five-year policy of refusing detention requests from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The requests ask jails to extend detentions by 48 hours for people who are booked on unrelated local charges and are flagged on federal watch lists for alleged immigration offenders being sought for deportation.

Read more here.

Internal Bruno Barreiro poll shows him down 14 points to Maria Elvira Salazar



Former Miami-Dade commissioner Bruno Barreiro faces an uphill climb in the Republican primary to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, according to internal polling by his campaign. 

A poll conducted by Magellan Strategies on behalf of Barreiro shows him trailing Miami broadcast journalist Maria Elvira Salazar by 14 percentage points. Salazar, who raised the most money in the field in recent months, received the support of 24 percent of likely GOP primary voters while Barreiro received 10 percent. No other Republican running received more than 1 percent support, and 64 percent of voters are undecided. 

Barreiro's poll unsurprisingly has him in a better position than an internal poll recently conducted by Salazar that shows her up 22 percentage points over Barreiro, though he trails by double digits in both. Salazar is also more well-known among voters than Barreiro, though a majority of voters either haven't heard of either or do not have a strong positive or negative opinion about either of them.  

The poll, which was conducted via interviews with 401 likely voters from June 11-12, has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. 

Magellan's poll also asked GOP voters about the most important issues that need to be addressed by President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress. Reducing the cost of healthcare ranked as the most important issue in a district with thousands of Obamacare recipients while addressing illegal immigration, an issue that the president could use as a wedge to motivate conservative voters in the midterms, ranked second. 

Whoever wins the Republican primary will face an uphill battle to keep Ros-Lehtinen's seat in GOP hands. Trump lost the district, which includes most of Miami Beach, downtown Miami and coastal South Dade, by more than 19 percentage points, the largest margin of victory for Clinton in the country in a GOP-held congressional district. Most of the national election prognosticators rate Ros-Lehtinen's seat as "lean Democratic." 

Barreiro's wife Zoraida lost a snap election for Bruno's old Miami-Dade commission seat last month, and Barriero donated $95,000 to his wife from his congressional campaign account for her unsuccessful race. 

July 02, 2018

New TV ad urges Carlos Curbelo to find a solution for families separated at the border

0445 IMPAC Immigration Summ


Congress is home for the July 4th recess after failing to pass a legislative solution for families separated at the border by the Trump administration, and outside groups are trying to make the ongoing delay an issue for Republicans running for reelection. 

Equity Forward Action, a group that seeks to protect access to abortions and reproductive care, is running a television ad in Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo's district, urging him to find a solution for families separated at the border. The weeklong, six-figure ad-buy begins today and will run in English. 

"The U.S. government separated thousands of children from their families," the ad said. "At every turn Congressman Curbelo has failed to deliver results. Now we need him to act. Families need to be reunified. Call Congressman Curbelo, tell him to help clean up this mess and hold the administration accountable." 

Curbelo tried to pass an immigration bill in the House of Representatives this week that allowed families to be detained together at the border, but the measure failed after all Democrats and nearly half of House Republicans voted against the bill for different reasons. Curbelo tried to pass an all-Republican compromise bill that eventually earned the support of the president, but dozens of conservative Republicans voted against it.

“As Representative Curbelo heads home to his district, thousands of innocent children continue to be detained in prison-like facilities," said Mary Alice Carter, Executive Director of Equity Forward Action. "We have a simple message for Curbelo: it’s time to do your job, get to the bottom of what happened and hold the administration accountable for this inhumane and cruel policy." 

A Homestead facility that houses hundreds of children who tried to cross the border illegally recently reopened in Curbelo's district, and gained widespread attention after it was discovered that some of the children being housed there were separated from their parents. Sen. Bill Nelson said last week that eight children currently staying at the Homestead facility after being separated from their parents have been unable to contact their parents, possibly because the parent has already been deported while the child is still in U.S. custody. 

Curbelo also visited a facility in Cutler Bay last week, and his office said the children there were able to speak with their parents regularly. 

Curbelo faces a challenge from Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton by more than 16 percentage points over Trump in 2016, and outside groups are likely to spend millions on the race between now and Election Day.

Watch the ad below: 



June 27, 2018

Immigration bill brokered by Miami Republicans fails



The Miami lawmakers who spent weeks trying to craft an all-Republican immigration solution settled for a messaging vote on Wednesday on an immigration bill that wasn't conservative enough for Republicans and wasn't liberal enough for Democrats.

Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo failed to navigate the third rail of GOP politics that has tripped up lawmakers like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the past. A compromise immigration bill that included a solution for giving young immigrants known as Dreamers a path to citizenship in exchange for $25 billion for President Donald Trump's border wall and limiting legal immigration failed by a vote of 121 to 301.  

Every Democrat and 112 Republicans voted against the plan. 

The bill also included a provision that would have allowed families to be detained together at the border if they cross illegally together. 

Trump endorsed the bill hours before the vote in an all-caps tweet, following days of mixed messaging as conservatives blasted the bill as "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants.


But Trump's tweet wasn't enough, and the failure of Republican leaders to get any immigration bill passed effectively ends the prospect of further congressional action on the issue before the 2018 election. 

Diaz-Balart and other Repubilcan lawmakers met with the president on Tuesday, one day before the vote on the immigration bill. Instead of talking about the effort, Diaz-Balart asked Trump about infrastructure, according to a pool report. 

The immigration bill did not come up during the part of the with lawmakers that was open to the press.  

“We have the worst immigration law in the history of the world. It’s a joke,” Trump said during the meeting, blasting a proposal to hire more immigration judges to speed up deportation hearings. 

Curbelo and Diaz-Balart's inability to pass a bill hurts Republicans' ability to deliver a message to voters in their competitive Miami-Dade districts that GOP members in Congress are capable of working working with Trump to solve issues such as what to do with 690,000 young immigrants who could face deportation.  Without congressional action, the fate of the young immigrants known as Dreamers rests with the courts. 

Read more here.

June 26, 2018

Some children held at Homestead facility have been unable to contact their parents


@alextdaugherty @newsbysmiley

Federal authorities have been unable to reconnect all children separated from their parents at the border because some of those parents may have already been deported with their kids remaining behind in U.S. custody, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson’s staff said on Tuesday.

Eight children now held at a South Dade migrant shelter haven’t been able to contact their parents, Nelson said.

Nelson said Barbara Flotus, the Homestead migrant shelter employee in charge of getting the children in touch with their parents, has been able to put 62 of the 70 children in touch with their parents.

Nelson's office said Health and Human Services officials told them that the reason eight children have not been in contact with their parents is because HHS has been unable to locate the parents, possibly because the adults have been deported.

Of the parents reached, 60 of them have requested their child be placed with sponsors or relatives in the U.S. while two have requested their child be sent back to their home country, Nelson said.

HHS spokesperson Kenneth Wolfe did not confirm how many children at Homestead have been unable to reach their parents.

"Reunification is always the ultimate goal of those entrusted with the care of unaccompanied alien children, and we are working toward that for those unaccompanied alien children currently in our custody," Wolfe said in a email.

Nelson questioned HHS Secretary Alex Azar about the children separated from their parents t the border during congressional hearing on Tuesday.

"How many of those children have been able to be in contact by telephone with their parents from whom they were separated?" Nelson asked at a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

"For any of them who have been separated from their parents at the time of the parents' detention by CBP (border patrol), within 2 hours of arriving at an ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement) shelter, we endeavor to put them in touch, get them on the phone with their parents," Azar said. "Sometimes that can't happen, if for instance the parent has been located for criminal prosecution."

The Trump administration's decision to reopen a Homestead facility that once housed unaccompanied minors who tried to cross the border illegally during the Obama administration set off a spate of protests over the weekend, as lawmakers from both parties demanded an end to the Trump administration's practice that led to about 2,300 children being separated from their families.

Read more here.

South Florida Democrats lurch left with call to abolish ICE



Abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by starving it of cash is now in vogue among Democrats running for Congress in Miami.

Three of the five Democrats in a contested primary to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are in favor of abolishing the nation's immigration enforcement agency, a rallying cry of the far left that has gained rapid mainstream attention in recent weeks because of the Trump administration's policy of separating children from their parents when they cross the border illegally.

Former Knight Foundation director Matt Haggman, former state Rep. David Richardson and former University of Miami academic advisor Michael Hepburn are all in favor of abolishing ICE by defunding the federal agency in Congress.

"The brutality of taking people out of their homes for 20 years has now sort of been fully seen," said Sean McElwee, an anti-deportation advocate who leads an ongoing abolish ICE effort on social media. "For a while, the only people I could get to agree with me were third-tier candidates, who I love and agree with but who don't have much of a chance...but now this has legs."

Over the weekend, four Democrats in Congress became the first elected officials in Washington to call for abolishing ICE. Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan said Monday he plans to introduce legislation that would defund the agency, which has powers to conduct immigration checks within 100 miles of the border or coastline, a zone that includes the entire state of Florida.

Most Democrats don't want to abolish ICE, instead arguing that the agency's leadership and direction under the Trump administration is the problem, not the existence of the organization itself. McElwee estimates that about two dozen Democrats running for federal office out of around 1,000 declared candidates nationally have publicly endorsed abolishing ICE.

The two Miami-Dade Democrats running against Republican Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart, who aren't facing competitive primaries, aren't on board. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said he "hasn't considered" defunding ICE.

"ICE should be targeting and arresting people that pose an imminent threat to others, not just rounding up innocent-even if undocumented-people," said Mary Barzee Flores, a Democrat running against Diaz-Balart. "It is neither reasonable nor practical to simply say 'let's abolish ICE,' but its enforcement priorities should be significantly adjusted."

"Abolishing ICE is not the answer," said Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who is running against Curbelo. "I believe the agency must correct its abuses and should dedicate its staff to protecting the country from actual threats, like child exploitation, human trafficking and drug-related crimes, instead of attempting to induce fear in immigrant communities."

But for Haggman and Richardson, two well-funded candidates seeking to beat former University of Miami President Donna Shalala in the Democratic primary for Ros-Lehtinen's seat, talk about abolishing ICE provides a way to differentiate themselves from an opponent with better name recognition and a way to sway far left-leaning voters in the primary.

Read more here.

June 25, 2018

Nelson says top Trump official barred him from seeing immigrant children in Homestead

Bill Nelson


Bill Nelson was on his way to the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children last Tuesday, attempting to gain access to the second-largest shelter in the country for children who crossed the border illegally by themselves or with their parents, when he called a top Trump administration official to get access. 

As he drove from Miami International Airport to South Dade, the Florida Democrat said he tried to call Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar but was instead referred to Deputy Secretary Eric Hargen.

Nelson said the number two official at the federal agency responsible for the Homestead facility told him it would take two weeks to schedule a tour.

"We had a rather heated conversation," Nelson said. "He said the policy of the department is that you fill out the forms, which I had done on Monday, and you have to wait two weeks. To which I replied 'Mr. Secretary, you and I both know that's bullhockey.'"

Nelson said the Trump administration's decision to deny his tour request was based on partisan politics as he fights for reelection against Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a supporter of the president.

"It's pretty obvious that this was being directed from on high," Nelson said.

An HHS spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Two days after Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to visit the Homestead facility, HHS officials sent an email to lawmakers allowing them to request a tour of Homestead and other facilities around the country at predetermined times due to a high demand for visits. Lawmakers were not allowed to photograph or record their visits, and they were not allowed to speak with the children.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and about 20 members of the press toured the facility on Friday while Nelson and Florida Democratic Reps. Frederica Wilson, Ted Deutch, Darren Soto and Wasserman Schultz toured the facility on Saturday. Scott has not toured the Homestead facility yet, though other state-level elected officials were told on Saturday they also had to wait two weeks to enter.

Nelson also said he was unable to meet with the woman in charge of reuniting the children at Homestead with their parents, because she wasn't working on Saturday. He plans to speak with Azar in Washington on Tuesday.


June 21, 2018

U.S. Chamber runs ad thanking Curbelo for immigration work

Curbelo (1)


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is going to bat for Rep. Carlos Curbelo in the midst of an immigration fight. 

The Miami Republican has spent weeks negotiating with GOP leadership, the conservative wing of his own party and Democrats in an attempt to pass an immigration bill in the House of Representatives. 

Those efforts could fall short today if an all-GOP immigration compromise bill fails on the floor of the House, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is cutting an ad on behalf of Curbelo thanking him for his work on the issue. 

"Do you want to protect Dreamers? Carlos Curbelo does," the ad says. "Carlos believes Dreamers belong here, they are one of us and deserve permanent legal status. Help stop the unfair treatment of Dreamers, protect DACA, stand with Carlos." 

The ad is part of an initial digital buy that will later transition into a larger TV ad buy, according to U.S. Chamber communications director Stacy Day. 

Curbelo likely faces a serious challenge from Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in November, who has hammered the Miami Republican in recent days for negotiating with the conservative wing of his own party on an immigration bill after a petition led by Curbelo that would have forced immigration votes with the help of Democrats failed. 

The compromise immigration bill includes a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants known as Dreamers though it will permanently reduce the number of immigration visas available every year.

Watch the ad below: 


June 20, 2018

Curbelo says children at Homestead separated from their parents will be reunited



Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told him during a meeting on Wednesday that the 94 children residing at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children will be returned to their parents due to an executive order signed by President Donald Trump that temporarily ends the White House's child separation policy. 

Curbelo said the children will be transferred from Health and Human Services custody to Department of Homeland Security custody to be reunited once the Department of Justice is finished prosecuting the parents who are currently separated from their children. 

"We're trying to get a time and a date to visit the facility," Curbelo said, adding that he thinks Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz should have been let into the shelter on Tuesday. 

The Homestead facility is located within Curbelo's Miami-to-Key West district, as the Miami Republican tries to find enough Republican votes to pass a compromise immigration bill on Thursday. A number of conservative Republicans appeared upset with Speaker Paul Ryan during House votes on Thursday, and if they vote en masse against the compromise bill it will fail. 

Trump's executive order is a shift from yesterday when the president claimed he couldn't act to end family separation without a bill from Congress. The executive order would end the policy of separating children from their parents while keeping families who attempt to cross the border illegally in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security. 

"We're signing an executive order," Trump said. "I consider it to be a very important executive order. It's about keeping families together, while at the same time being sure we have a very powerful, very strong border." 

June 19, 2018

Nelson, Wasserman Schultz blocked from entering immigrant children shelter in Homestead


@newsbysmiley @brendamedinar

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz were denied access Tuesday to a Homestead facility where as many as 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children are being held.

Nelson and Wasserman Schultz, both Democrats, tried to enter the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children a day after Wasserman Schultz announced that she'd learned Health and Human Services had transferred hundreds of children to the South Miami-Dade site. The center, which HHS says is only temporary, held unaccompanied minors during the Obama administration.

"The company running this facility told us we would be welcomed to tour the facility," Nelson said on Twitter. "HHS then denied us entry and said that they need 'two weeks notice' to allow us inside. That’s ridiculous and it’s clear this administration is hiding something."


It remains unclear just what role the Homestead facility is playing in the new and controversial immigration crackdown under President Donald Trump. The center may be housing children who entered the country without parents, or housing them after authorities took them from their parents after the family entered the United States illegally, or a mix of both. An HHS spokesman has declined to clarify.

The facility closed last year amid a sharp decline in illegal border crossings under Trump, easing the flow of unaccompanied minors needing housing. Washington reopened the facility earlier this year without public notice, and the new population of minors did not receive media attention until Wasserman Schultz disclosed it during an event Monday.

Read more here.