Florida’s OK bill to stop immigrants from entering the state
All Florida government agencies would be banned from doing business with transportation companies that bring immigrants into the state who are illegally in the country under a bill sent to Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday.
The bill is a priority for the Republican governor and an effort to stop the federal government from sending people crossing the Mexican border illegally into Florida. DeSantis, who is running for office this year and is a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has repeatedly criticized President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.
The House voted 77 to 42 in favor of the bill, with Republicans saying illegal immigration needs to be addressed and Democrats saying the only reason for the bill is to boost DeSantis’ political ambitions and that it plays on fears about immigrants.
“I came to America the right way,” said Republican Representative Webster Barnaby, who immigrated from England. “It’s about enforcement. It’s about preventing people who illegally bring people … directly to Florida from being able to do so.
Barnaby said immigrants being transported to states after illegally crossing the Mexican border “is nothing short of an invasion.”
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 illegally in the country.
“Don’t give in to this campaign of fear, don’t give in to this hatred, don’t give in to this treatment of people as if they are not human beings. They are. They are our brothers and sisters. Treat them decently, treat them with respect,” Democratic Rep. Joe Geller said.
Democratic Rep. Anna said the bill was politically motivated.
“This is another example of political rhetoric and campaigning disguised as a bill,” she said. “This whole bill is a facade used to increase campaign coffers in 2022 and 2024, because I know the second this bill is signed by the governor, there will be a fundraising email just after.”
Immigration has been the main talking point for Republicans attacking Biden, whose approval has plummeted as the GOP seeks to retake the US House in the 2022 midterm elections.
Republican Rep. Melony Bell said the bill is about making the state safer. She said a constituent sent her a photo last week showing two buses illegally dropping immigrants into the country.
“These people have been abandoned, put on the streets, without work, without food, without shelter,” she said. “Once they get here, they have nothing more to do. They fall into crime, they start driving vehicles while intoxicated, they kill citizens.”
The legislation also expands on a bill DeSantis signed into law in 2019 that would ban local government sanctuary policies and require local law enforcement to do their best to work with federal immigration authorities.
Parts of that law were struck down last year by a federal judge who repeatedly said the law was racially motivated and supporters showed no evidence it was necessary to reduce crime. The state appealed the decision and the case remains pending.