Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Wild claims vs. calm action on migrants

Tens of thousands of children, mostly Central Americans unaccompanied by adults, have been caught crossing the U.S. border illegally since October. They are fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries in a desperate search for a better life, and there has been a single publicly documented case identifying 16 teens as gang members. Yet too many Republican members of Congress such as Rep. Rich Nugent of Spring Hill are spreading fears of gangs and criminals flooding across the border. They are recklessly inflaming emotions as they demand more fences and border security rather than broader solutions to a humanitarian crisis.

Nugent turned up the false rhetoric last week by stating that "a lot'' of the detained children are gang members raised in a criminal culture. The website Buzzfeed first reported that he said on an Ocala radio station that "a lot of these children, quote-unquote, you know the first caller mentioned it — they're gang members, they're gang-affiliated.

"Listen, if you're 14, 15, 16, 17 years old and you're coming from a country that's gang-infested, particularly with MS-13-types. That is the most aggressive of all the street gangs. When you have those types coming across the border, they're not children at that point. These kids have been brought up in a culture of thievery. A culture of murder, of rape, all those types of things. And now we are going to infuse them into the American culture, it's just ludicrous."

The inflammatory and irresponsible commentary does nothing to effectively address an escalating immigration and humanitarian crisis as children flee poverty and violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras only to be apprehended in Texas and Arizona as they try to enter the United States. Under a 2008 federal antitrafficking law, minors from Central America, unlike those from Mexico and Canada, cannot be deported immediately and must be given a court hearing before they are deported. The flood of children has strained shelter resources and brought a call from President Barack Obama to authorize $3.7 billion in emergency spending to bolster border security, accelerate deportations and aid in humanitarian efforts. That's what Congress should focus on, not on inflaming emotions with inaccurate information and fueling inhumane demands like turning every one of these children back at the border without an appropriate hearing.

In a later interview with CNN, Nugent wisely retreated from his inaccurate proclamation. He acknowledged just a small percentage of the detainees likely are gang members, that he knew of no other instances beyond the 16 teens identified in an Arizona placement center, and that much of the gang data is classified information to which he does not have access.

In contrast to the loud, foot-in-mouth political partisanship inside the Beltway, consider the quiet, feet-on-the-ground approach in west Pasco County, where a highly regarded charity is seeking permission to double the number of immigrant children it can help in Holiday. There, Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services is quietly sheltering up to 16 children between the ages of 8 and 18 under a federal refugee resettlement program. The agency, seeking county permission to double the number of shelter beds to 32, is assisting children with no criminal record who were smuggled or trafficked into the country. It is a worthwhile humanitarian effort with the goal of reuniting undocumented immigrant children with relatives.

This is a humanitarian crisis that demands quick but thoughtful action from Congress before an August recess. Reckless claims that spread false information don't help, and Nugent knows better.

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Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17