Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ongoing war on children got a thumbs-up in the state’s senate this week, when a committee approved an anti-immigrant bill that includes a provision that blocks transportation companies from bringing undocumented immigrants to the state.
That includes asylum-seeking unaccompanied children who are waiting to be placed with a sponsor. This could prolong their separation, because they may have to be sent to another state to wait even if their sponsor is in Florida. “Not one member of the public spoke in support, however, SB 1808 passed along party lines,” Florida Immigration Coalition said Monday.
“The bill also would require counties to enter agreements with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to participate in a program in which local law officers help in immigration enforcement,” despite the fact that nearly 50 state agencies are already in such agreements, Orlando Sentinel reported. “In addition, the bill would expand a 2019 law that sought to ban sanctuary cities, despite there being none in the state.”
A federal judge last fall struck down key portions of that law, “declaring portions of a law unconstitutional and tinged with ‘discriminatory motives,’” Miami Herald reported at the time. The court’s ruling cited “biased and unreliable data generated” by organizations within the racist Tanton network. That network also has a tie to the legislation passed by Florida Republicans this week. Miami New Times reported in 2019 that Tanton network-linked group FLIMEN and SB 1808 lead sponsor Aaron Bean “corresponded repeatedly” in the past.
Orlando Sentinel said that Bean claimed SB 1808 “was intended, at least in part, to prevent undocumented immigrants from being flown into Florida in the ‘dead of night.’” Oh gimme a fucking break. DeSantis has also tried to turn this into a controversy despite the fact that these are pretty routine flights that also occurred under the previous administration.
Ron didn’t dare say anything then, of course. Now he’s using these vulnerable children who have already been through so much trauma as his political props.
“Florida Republicans heard dozens of testimony against an anti-immigrant bill in the Senate judiciary committee and not one person testified in support,” tweeted Thomas Kennedy. He’s been repeatedly targeted by the DeSantis administration for his relentless advocacy. “They passed it anyways. This is what they choose to focus on as Florida faces an affordable housing crisis.”
His House Children’s Home executive director Silvia Smith-Torres told Tampa Bay Times earlier this month that the organization opposed DeSantis’ rule “because we support children.” She estimated that as many as 90% of children who arrived to the U.S. alone already have family here. But because of DeSantis’ political stunts, they could be forced to wait in another state under continued U.S. watch even if their family is in Florida.
“Many of them have roots in the state of Florida and why traumatize a child again if they can be housed ... in Florida to be reunited with family here in Florida?” Catholic Charities CEO Peter Routsis-Arroyo asked Tampa Bay Times. “Why would you ship them to Texas to reunite them with family in Florida?” There’s no logical reasoning for it. Ron DeSantis is just trying to further his political career.
”SB1808 is an attack on vulnerable undocumented children instead of focusing on the real issues Floridians are facing like the housing crisis & the rampant waste of tax-payer dollars to fund the Governor's political stunts,” Florida Immigrant Coalition continued. “Children are vulnerable & we must protect them all.”