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Florida Republicans Are Caving To The Trump Effect

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Florida’s anti-immigrant legislators are back at work in Tallahassee – and this time they are seeking to further criminalize immigrant families.

Two Republican legislators, Florida Representatives Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami) and Larry Metz (R-Yalaha), have introduced legislation that has been inspired by Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant hatred and rhetoric.

House Bill 9, sponsored by Representative Trujillo, is seeking to charge immigrants who violate their deportation order with a third degree felony and possible jail time. Meanwhile, Representative Metz’s legislation would force local law enforcement to collaborate with federal immigration authorities  – undermining the trust built across various municipalities between immigrants and local police.

Last week, over 300 immigration advocates from across the state traveled to Tallahassee, Florida as part of the We Are Florida! campaign. Their mission was to convey to state legislators that Trujillo and Metz’s proposals would not be in the best interest of communities across the Sunshine State.

One of the advocates, Isabel Delacruzshared her fears about the proposed legislation  “I have family who are undocumented and if these bills pass, they’re going to go into hiding. How are they supposed to live and provide for their children that way?”

Delacruz is not alone in her concerns. A number of county sheriffs from across Florida have also criticized these proposals – stating that they will not receive additional funding in order to conduct immigration enforcement related efforts.

On Tuesday, The Tampa Bay Times published a scathing editorial criticizing the Republican led legislature and calling for “immigration policy” to “line up with the facts”:

It also is unduly burdensome to hold local agencies responsible for enforcing immigration laws, especially in areas such as Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, where officials have come up with reasonable, non-punitive approaches to cooperating with immigration officials. Immigration issues should be addressed by Washington, not Tallahassee.

Yesterday, the Miami-Dade County commission passed resolutions opposing Trujillo’s HB 9 and Metz’s HB 765 – a move that Francesca Menes from the Florida Immigrant Coalition described as “a strong message to state legislators that the biggest and most diverse county in Florida does not support any harsh laws that could threaten immigrant families and workers, our public safety and local resources.”

Added Juan Escalante, Director of Florida’s Voice, “Once again, the Florida legislature is attempting to paint immigrants across our states as criminals. It is time for Republican legislators to understand the contributions our community makes in all of Florida. The measures presented by Representative Trujillo and Metz undermine the trust between immigrants and law enforcement – not to mention place undue burden on local governments. It is time for the Florida Legislature to work toward sensible and common sense solutions that help, not criminalize, immigrant families.”

At a time when Donald Trump is surging in Florida, it has become increasingly clear that Republican Legislators are trying to score cheap political points and play politics with the lives of Floridians. Most regrettably, it is sad to see Representative Carlos Trujillo, a representative for the vibrant community of Miami, cozy up to the extremists within his own party by trying to inject Donald Trump’s xenophobic tactics into the state of Florida.

The Florida Legislature is expected to remain in session until March 11, 2016.

Florida’s Voice is a project of America’s Voice.