tags: Press Releases

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senator Rick Scott Try to Out-Do Each Other on Embrace of Anti-Immigrant Politics

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Despite Importance of Immigrants to Florida’s Economy and Vitality, Florida GOP Goes in Nativist Direction

Washington, DC – In analysis titled, “An emerging GOP agenda: Fight the ‘enemy within’” the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel writes about how Republicans with potential national political ambitions, including Florida Senator Rick Scott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, are “talking more boldly about an agenda that goes beyond the one Donald Trump ran on … to portray America’s problems as fixable — sometimes easily fixable — and mostly created by left-wing malcontents who hate the country.”

Anti-immigrant policy, politics, and fear-mongering is an inextricable part of this approach, as we are seeing in both the cases of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis. The stark reality is that Florida’s economy relies on immigrants. In these times of worker shortages and inflation, policymakers should be leaning into pro-immigrant policy instead of anti-immigrant scapegoating. Below, find fresh examples of how Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis are attacking immigrants:

In new analysis for the America’s Voice website, we explore Senator Rick Scott’s embrace of xenophobia, including dangerous “invasion” conspiracy rhetoric. The analysis, “Florida Man Mistakes Bigoted Slogans for Substantive Policy, Leads GOP Towards Deadly “Invasion” Politics,” notes:

“As chair of the NRSC, Scott helps set the tone and message for Republicans across the country. Dressing up bigoted slogans, racial dog-whistles, and culture war lies as policy, Scott is pointing Republicans down a dark path where he characterized the “greatest danger we have ever faced” in his CPAC speech as “the enemy within.”  

… At CPAC, Scott was one of the keynote speakers and gave a speech worthy of Joe McCarthy. “Build the damn wall and name it after Trump,” Scott bellowed. Scott also used his speech to push the lie, warning of a “dangerous invasion at the border, drugs, and criminals marching in every day.” This racist lie about a migrant “invasion” at the southern border has a real-world body count and has been the inspiration for white nationalists to commit horrific acts of mass murder. A fact Scott should be well aware of and chose to legitimize anyway.”

Read the full deep-dive on Rick Scott here, including a detailed recap and links to NRSC nativist ads and rhetoric.

Not to be outdone, Florida’s GOP Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican state legislators this week moved forward an anti-immigrant bill that is a priority of Gov. DeSantis and a prime example of how he is attacking immigrants as a core part of his political calculus. As the Associated Press reports in a story, “Florida OKs bill aimed at keeping immigrants out of state,”:

“All Florida government agencies would be barred from doing business with transportation companies that bring immigrants to the state who are in the country illegally under a bill sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday.

… Once signed by DeSantis, the bill will prohibit any government agency, state or local, from doing business with any airline, bus or other transportation company paid by the federal government to bring immigrants to Florida who are in the country illegally.”

Prominent business leaders in Florida have spoken out against the push from Gov. DeSantis and GOP legislators to scapegoat immigrants. For example, Aida Levitan and Mike Fernandez wrote a recent op-ed in the Miami Herald, “DeSantis’ anti-immigrant policies are inhumane and will hurt businesses in Florida,” which noted in part: 

“Florida is experiencing a severe labor shortage, like the rest of the nation. One in four workers in our state is an immigrant, making up a crucial part of our labor force. They are the backbone of our healthcare industry and kept our businesses running as essential workers during the pandemic … As workers, business owners, taxpayers and neighbors, immigrants make contributions that benefit everyone. Yet, some politicians continue to whip up their base and raise funds by generating fear and hate toward immigrants, attacking immigrants through orders and legislation.”

According to Vanessa Cardenas, Deputy Director for America’s Voice:

It’s a sad commentary that in a state like Florida, which knows first-hand that immigrants are a source of strength and vitality, that Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis are having a contest to see who can be the most anti-immigrant. It’s part of a larger ugly pattern in states across America as the Trumpified GOP embraces nativism despite the reality that America needs a modern immigration policy that welcomes new immigrants and legalizes the immigrants who already live, work, and raise families here.

Check out ongoing examples of Republicans’ anti-immigrant ads at the America’s Voice GOP Ad Tracker: http://gopadtracker.com/