In a must read piece, former Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida wrote an op-ed that ran today in the Miami Herald denouncing the Republican anti-immigrant bill that is slated for a vote today in the Florida Senate. SB 168 would require all jurisdictions and state agencies to serve as federal immigration officers to help federal agencies deport immigrants. Facing pressure from the Trump administration to outlaw so-called “sanctuary cities” and fall in line with the Republican Party’s relentless opposition to immigration, Florida Republicans, working with anti-immigration advocates, crafted the bill which passed the Florida House on a party-line vote on Wednesday. A vote in the state Senate could come as soon as today.
The Congressman notes that Florida does not have any cities that are thought of as “sanctuaries” but rather has an economy deeply dependent on immigrant labor. Further, based on experience in other states, the bill will hurt the economy and further strain already dwindling state and local budgets if enacted. He writes:
We need Congress to step up and find a real solution to fix our broken immigration system. SB 168 and HB 527 are not that solution. The legislation may generate headlines, but it offers little in the way of substance. Instead, these bills will drain local resources and damage our economy. We need legislation that fits with our long-held values, not flouts them for political gain.
The piece is excerpted below or available online in full here.
These bills attempt to solve a problem that does not exist, proposing the ban of nonexistent sanctuary cities by mandating our local law enforcement officers begin enforcing federal immigration law. This harmful, anti-immigrant legislation will wreak havoc on our communities and our economy. It is at odds with our Floridian values and is symptomatic of the need for a solution to our lapsed federal immigration system. SB 168 and HB 527 ignore the economic realities of our state. By targeting immigrant communities, our state representatives risk Florida losing billions of dollars in GDP.
What our senators in Tallahassee need to remember is that immigrants are contributing members of communities here in Florida. They are business owners and job creators. Just this month, more than 120 Florida business leaders united to sign an open letter in opposition to this legislation, highlighting immigrants’ essential role in supporting and growing our state’s economy. In fact, as of 2017, New American Economy has shown that more than $7.8 billion in state and local taxes and nearly $92 billion in spending power has come from our immigrant population…
…This legislation unnecessarily targets a vital population by requiring local law enforcement to check the immigration status of everyone they interact with. Doing this would create a climate of fear, which could drive immigrants to leave the state, having a devastating effect on our economy and workforce…
…Another significant shortcoming of SB 168 and HB 527 is that they require local municipalities to pull from already-strained agency resources to support new federal responsibilities. Without additional funding, local law enforcement will be compelled to divert their critical and limited resources away from other responsibilities to meet this new standard. This means that in addition to harming and targeting those who are contributing to Florida’s prosperity, this legislation adds another fiscal burden onto already limited local budgets.
…And ultimately, we need Congress to pass sensible immigration reform. That is the only sustainable solution to our broken immigration system. I urge our state senators in Tallahassee, and Republicans representing communities that will be disproportionately affected, like Miami-Dade, to vote no when SB 168 and HB 527 come up for a vote in the Senate. I am confident our Florida leaders will do what’s best for our state.