Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently claimed it was “disgusting” to compare Central American children arriving to the southern border in search of asylum with Cuban children who arrived to the U.S. through Operation Pedro Pan in the 1960s. This self-proclaimed anti-child crusader clearly believes that some kids are less deserving of safety than others.
That stance is now at the center of Spanish-language radio ads targeting DeSantis, NBC News reports. “Disgusting?” a woman says in the clip. “Disgusting is that Governor DeSantis is trying to benefit himself politically by attacking innocent immigrant children who are only seeking refuge. And to top it off, he did it in Miami, Florida’s own Ellis Island.”
NBC News reports the six-figure ad is by the American Business Immigration Coalition Action, which counts Republicans and former Republicans, like Mike Fernández, among its members. Fernández told the outlet that “DeSantis wants to be a ruler and it is hypocritical for us Cuban Americans who escaped a dictator to come to this country and embrace another one who wants to be.”
“Right now being on DeSantis’ side and being on the side of this bill is complicit with something that is wrong,” he continued.
That anti-child agenda could not be more despicable. GOP-led committees in both state legislative chambers have advanced bills targeting transportation companies that bring asylum-seeking children and other migrants into the state. DeSantis has also issued an order blocking the license renewals of federally funded facilities where asylum-seeking kids are held while they wait to be placed with a sponsor, a move that’s been criticized by Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski.
“Children are children, and no child should be deemed disgusting, especially by a public servant,” Wenski said. DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw responded by calling the archbishop a liar. It’s truly a shameless reaction considering Pushaw gets paid to lie and troll while on the taxpayer dime. Recently, “Pushaw implied on Twitter that neo-Nazi demonstrators in Orlando might be Democrats in disguise,” the Sun Sentinel reported. “They were not, of course, and she soon deleted the tweet.”
Eduardo Padrón, who arrived to the U.S. as a child through Operation Pedro Pan, sympathized with children similarly seeking safety today, as well as the parents who have to make the heart-wrenching decision to send their kids across the southern border by themselves.
“I cried all the way, from Cuba to Miami. And many, many nights after that,” the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient told NBC News. “Parents, who are very loving, made the most courageous, difficult decision that any parent can make, which is to separate from their children, not knowing whether they would ever see them again.” DeSantis is only prolonging that trauma through his anti-child executive orders and legislative agenda. Let’s say that child has family in Florida. The federal government would have that child flown to the state to wait in a shelter until they can be connected with a sponsor. But should a shelter falling under DeSantis’ order be unable to operate, that child will have to wait elsewhere in the U.S., causing needless prolonged separation. That’s what DeSantis stands for.
“DeSantis thought attacking Central American children was safe,” tweeted Doug Rivlin of immigration reform advocacy group America’s Voice. “He forgot that many of his most powerful constituents came to Florida as children seeking safety too.”
House Bill 1355 and Senate Bill 1808 have advanced in the Florida legislature despite vocal testimony opposing the legislation, including from 12-year-old Zachary Olivos.
“Why are you attacking kids that look like me?” Florida Phoenix reported he asked lawmakers. “Kids who are just kids? We are not criminals. We’re just kids. With all due respect, why is the Florida House even considering laws that target children? What did these kids ever do to you?” Well, nothing, as we noted before. But DeSantis wants to be president, and he’s all set on further traumatizing children to get there.
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