© 2022 All Rights reserved WUSF
News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Politics / Issues

Florida Senate approves immigration bill as a rebuttal to the Biden administration

Personal belongings of immigrants who entered the United States illegally are loaded onto a plane for a deportation flight to El Salvador by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Houston.
David J. Phillip
/
AP
Personal belongings of immigrants who entered the United States illegally are loaded onto a plane for a deportation flight to El Salvador by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Houston.

Governor Ron DeSantis is poised to get nearly everything he wants from the legislature this year—including tightening the state’s immigration enforcement.

DeSantis isn’t a fan of President Joe Biden’s approach to immigration and during a February roundtable in Miami, the governor leveled his criticism directly at the Biden administration.

"Our perspective is that those are bad policies. If you look at the absolute explosion of migrants across the southern border, it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen," DeSantis told the people assembled for the discussion.

DeSantis and Republican state Attorney General Ashley Moody have accused the administration of allegedly dumping undocumented immigrants in other states. Florida is presently suing the federal government over the issue. The claims of so-called “ghost flights” have largely appeared in conservative and right-leaning news sources such as the New York Post and Fox News. In February, a Washington Post report noted the issue is more nuanced—who are going to stay with relatives and parents, and some adults heading to detention centers.

“Don’t we care about kids?" said Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo during a Senate floor debate over a bill that would prevent airlines, bus companies and other carriers from knowingly transporting undocumented immigrants for any reason other than deportation or detention.

"It’s not their fault, they didn’t make the plan, they’re not the ones who set out to get here," Pizzo said.

Democrats argued the bill is a non-issue that’s being exploited for political gain. The federal government, they noted, tracks every trip, and the people on them are known to the government. Pizzo also notes the state has no control over federal law.

"This isn’t going to do anything except for single out people and be critical of people trying to get a piece of the American Dream when we have absolutely no power whatsoever over the federal government’s immigration authority," Pizzo said.

I watched those people raise their hand and pledge to abandon all they’d left behind and pledge to become Americans. And I was embarrassed that what I took for granted, they embraced," said an emotional Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, as recounted the moment his wife became an American citizen.

Baxley, who supports the immigration bill, argues it's is not rooted in hate, but in love.

"We love immigrants," he continued, "but we must have order, and what this bill is saying is that we cannot keep doing this. We are endangering the order and safety and liberty of all Floridians if we don’t move with immigration in an orderly fashion.”  

The measure, by Republican Sen. Aaron Bean, would force local law enforcement agencies to contract with federal immigration authorities to detain undocumented immigrants. It makes good on Governor DeSantis’ ongoing pledge to push back against the federal government on immigration.

Copyright 2022 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.