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Protesters lined up in front of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor's office for a "Close the Camps" rally, aimed at shutting down immigration detention centers.
Ti'anna Davis / WUSF Public Media

By Carrie Pinkard and Ti'Anna Davis

“Babies don’t belong in cages.” “Close the camps.” “We are better than this.”

Those were the words written on the picket signs of a few dozen protestors standing in the summer heat outside U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor’s office as part of a national “Close the Camps” protest.

The Trump administration continues to detain unaccompanied minors for indefinite periods in unlicensed and military-style facilities in violation of a decades-old legal settlement governing the treatment of immigrant children, according to court documents filed Friday in California.

A divided Florida House has approved a bill that bans sanctuary cities for immigrants. It was met with heated debate from Democrats.

The bill would ban so-called “sanctuary cities” for immigrants in Florida counties and punish local officials who don’t cooperate with federal authorities. Municipalities that enforce such policies may be fined up to $5,000 per day.

The bill was proposed by Rep. Cord Byrd (R-Nassau) with the intention of reducing crime in Florida.

Florida Lawmakers Debate Sanctuary Bills

Apr 21, 2019

A pair of bills are inching their way closer to the Florida House and Senate Chambers. Senate Bill 168 and House Bill 527 would prohibit local governments from sanctuary policies.

On Friday’s Florida Roundup, we devoted the full hour to the debate over immigration and sanctuary cities in the Sunshine State.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says immigrants and non-citizens in South Florida should not fear a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

During a visit to Miami Thursday to meet with local business leaders, Ross—who oversees the census—emphasized that Census Bureau workers cannot share people’s responses with other government authorities. The comment came in response to continuing concerns that immigrants will sit out the census for fear their answers could be released to federal immigration authorities.

More than 15,000 children are being held in migrant children shelters around the country. A recent ProPublica investigation found some kids are reporting sexual assaults in shelters, and their allegations are not always thoroughly investigated.

The Trump administration has proposed expanding a policy that would deny green cards to immigrants who access certain public benefits, like food stamps and Medicaid.

That would expand the list of services that some people seeking green cards get penalized for using.

Democrats in Congress spoke out against the proposed regulation in Sunrise Monday morning.

“This proposed rule change has sewn confusion and prompted immigrant families to start avoiding programs they need to raise healthy and productive children,” Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

More than 500 people gathered at the Joe Chillura Square near the Hillsborough County Courthouse on Saturday, protesting the seperation of families at the U.S.-Mexico Border.

Updated at 4:28 p.m. ET

The Trump administration's decision to separate children from their families as a way to curb illegal immigration is adding fuel to an already fiery debate over immigration.

A group of House Democrats converged on an immigration detention facility in New Jersey on Sunday, days before a planned vote by House Republicans next week. Meanwhile, Trump administration officials alternately took credit and sought to distance the administration from the family separation policy.

Mary Shedden / WUSF Public Media

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri on Monday faced critics of an agreement he drafted over the arrest of undocumented immigrants.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A Plant City man who has spent two decades in the U.S. illegally is being deported.

Luis Felipe Blanco-Reyes, 41, lived with his pregnant wife and six children. He worked and is the sole provider for his family.

Although Blanco-Reyes had been granted a humanitarian stay in the past, immigration authorities told him he's got to go back to his native Mexico.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Miami-Dade County on Wednesday to thank it for helping the feds deport undocumented immigrants. But experts say his claims about crime in cities that don’t cooperate – so-called “sanctuary cities” – are exaggerated.

This year President Trump ordered local governments to comply with federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants who’ve been arrested. He warned sanctuary cities they would lose federal law enforcement funding if they didn't.

Wikipedia Commons

Would a bill that would penalize Florida cities and counties for offering sanctuary cities be the toughest in the nation? And do undocumented immigrants have Constitutional rights? WUSF's Steve Newborn poses these questions to Josh Gillin of PolitiFact Florida.

A House panel faced stiff opposition as it passed a measure assigning heightened punishments to undocumented immigrants.

Hospitals, AHCA Battle Over Care For Undocumented Immigrants

Jun 22, 2016

In what was dubbed an "inevitable sequel" in a long-running legal battle, a state appeals court Tuesday heard arguments in a dispute about Medicaid payments to hospitals that provide emergency care to undocumented immigrants.

In citrus-growing areas, you see lots of old converted school buses on the road; these are company buses, carrying the workers who will harvest oranges and grapefruit. And in the evening, some of those buses roll into a truck stop on a two-lane country road south of the town of LaBelle. Young men scramble out, trot into the store and line up at the taco counter.

This is where I met Esteban Gonzalez and his brother Isaac, from the Mexican state of Veracruz.

Federal law does not prohibit undocumented students from enrolling in college, but it does something nearly as effective, banning them from receiving government aid. In recent years, though, some undocumented students have stumbled upon a little-known, nonprofit online university that doesn't charge tuition and doesn't care about students' legal status.

In a prime-time speech on Thursday, Obama defied congressional Republicans by announcing a plan that shields up to 5 million immigrants from deportation.

Via the PBS Newshour, here's video of Obama's 15-minute speech:

The total number of immigrants living in the United States illegally hasn't changed much since 2009, but where they are choosing to settle, according to a new report from the nonprofit Pew Research Center.

South Florida ranks third among the nation’s metropolitan areas with the highest number of Central American minors placed with sponsors, chiefly parents and other relatives, according to the latest federal government figures. Harris County, which includes Houston, has the largest number, with 2,866 minors placed with families, followed by Southern California (including Los Angeles and San Diego) at 2,369, and then South Florida with 2,268 (including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties). For the nation as a whole, the total was 29,890, according to the figures posted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the agency in charge of the program.

The Florida Democratic Party is taking shots at Governor Rick Scott over a proposal giving undocumented students access to in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities.

Party officials are slamming Scott over a watered-down version of the bill now in play in the legislature.

The Florida Senate took a major step toward passage of a measure Thursday that would allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at Florida colleges and universities.