Felicia Persaud (26512)
Felicia Persaud

While the focus has been on the end of Title 42 and the “chaos” at the U.S. southern border, a much more important immigration story occurred in Florida last week. Here are three immigration stories you should know and be following.

1: Is Florida now ‘the Arizona’ of 2023? 

With the stroke of his pen, Florida’s power-drunk governor, Ron Death Santis, signed a measure into law on May 10 that is comparable to Arizona’s SB 1070 of 2010. 

The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act of Arizona, or the “Show Me Your Papers” law, was the broadest and strictest anti-illegal immigration law in the United States when passed in 2010. On May 10, Florida topped it with Senate Bill 1718. This new law now makes any Floridian “who knowingly and willfully transports an undocumented individual into the state” a human smuggler, which comes with serious criminal penalties, including allowing for prosecution under the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act. 

The law also prohibits local governments in the state from issuing identification cards (ID) to undocumented immigrants and invalidates driver’s licenses issued to those without legal status who have moved to Florida from other states. The law also requires hospitals to collect and submit data about the costs of providing healthcare to the undocumented and requires private employers with 25 or more employees to use the E-Verify system to confirm a new employee’s employment eligibility to work legally. 

As many companies and tour operators did during the Arizona madness, they must now boycott Florida as a place to hold events, travel, or do business to save Floridians from the madman Republican voters have unleashed. 

2: Two extremes at play over end of Title 42

There is no doubt that the situation playing out at the U.S. southern border is unsustainable. The end of Title 42 will bring new challenges, but in trying to solve the surge at the border without help from the Congress, the Biden administration has said border authorities will deny asylum to most migrants who arrive at an official port of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border without having first applied for asylum in a third country traversed along the way. Migrants who do not schedule an appointment at a point of entry or use other available humanitarian programs will be deported to their home countries. 

The policy is aimed at sending a strong message that there will be no entry at the border and saving cities that are struggling under the burden of a huge influx of people seeking asylum.

Sadly, again we have two extremes at play on what needs to be a commonsense solution. Immigration advocates represented by the American Civil Liberties Union filed a legal challenge against the new asylum bars, claiming the administration changes violate U.S. and international laws on asylum.

Right-wing Republicans, for their part, slammed Biden for easing the Trumpian policy while those in Congress, except for two, passed the Secure the Border Act of 2023 that offers no solution to the crisis yet again. All it would do is mandate that Customs and Border Protection hire enough Border Patrol agents to maintain a staff of 22,000, develop a plan to upgrade existing technology to make sure agents are well-equipped, and require the Homeland Security secretary to resume construction of Trump’s border wall. 

How will that solve anything? There can be no far-left or far-right fix for this issue. There has to be a common-sense tough approach. The administration is right: People should not have to show up at the U.S. border to apply for asylum. The madness has left cities burdened with an influx of people and a system in dire backlog, while many migrants who have been living here for years, paying taxes and awaiting work permits and green cards, are shoved to the back burner. This cannot be allowed to continue. Let’s be guided by rationale. 

3: Say a prayer 

Say a prayer for the family of a Honduran migrant teen who are now planning his funeral. The minor, whose name has not been released, died on May 10 while housed at a Florida shelter and under the care of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to a congressional notice obtained by CNN. Ironically, it was the same day Governor Death Santis signed his fascist immigration bill into law. 

The 17-year-old was initially placed at Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services in Safety Harbor, Florida, on May 5, but was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor Wednesday morning after being found unconscious. He was pronounced dead an hour later despite resuscitation attempts. An investigation by a medical examiner is underway.

Another unaccompanied migrant child, also from Honduras, died in U.S. government custody in March. The 4-year-old child was “medically fragile” and had been admitted to the Bronson Methodist Hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit in Kalamazoo, Michigan, after suffering cardiac arrest.

A sad end to two young lives. May their souls rest in peace. 

The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News.

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