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  1. Opinion

Column: Florida's anti-sanctuary city bill would be bad for Florida

In this Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, foreign nationals are arrested during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles. Advocacy groups said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are rounding up people in large numbers around the country, with roundups in Southern California being especially heavy-handed, as part of stepped-up enforcement under President Donald Trump. (Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP) NYAG703
In this Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, foreign nationals are arrested during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles. Advocacy groups said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are rounding up people in large numbers around the country, with roundups in Southern California being especially heavy-handed, as part of stepped-up enforcement under President Donald Trump. (Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP) NYAG703
Published Nov. 27, 2017

President Donald Trump's executive order that threatened to strip federal funds from local governments that did not subscribe to his draconian immigration policies has been dealt a death blow.

Last week, a federal judge in California stated that Trump's executive order would cause "constitutional injuries by violating the separation of powers doctrine and depriving (the affected counties) of their 10th and Fifth Amendment rights" and deemed it unconstitutional. A permanent injunction has been issued, and Trump's order has been blocked.

Someone should tell that to Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, the Land O'Lakes Republican who made his case in a recent column in the Tampa Bay Times for a poisonous piece of legislation known as HB 9, which in his words is "a bill that prevents sanctuary cities from ever plaguing our state. … State and local governments must comply with and support the enforcement of federal immigration laws."

The truth about HB 9 is that it would discourage immigrants who are victims of crime from cooperating with local police, criminalize immigrant parents of U.S. citizens in Florida and restrict local governments from enacting policies that would serve the best interests of their residents and law enforcement agencies.

Corcoran would be wise not to challenge the judiciary by fast-tracking HB 9 through the Legislature. After all, his arguments in favor of HB 9 hold no weight on their own.

The speaker should know that citing Phoenix as an example of local immigration policies is a flawed argument. The city was under the jurisdiction of disgraced Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the perpetual civil rights violator who was found to be in civil and criminal contempt of court for racially profiling the citizens of Maricopa County earlier this year.

Furthermore, Corcoran is flat-out wrong in his interpretation of the UC Riverside study he points to in an attempt to validate HB 9.

The authors of that study, Benjamin Gonzalez, Loren Collingwood and Stephen Omar El-Khatib, disprove Corcoran's mischaracterization of their findings in an analysis piece published in the Washington Post back in July, right after Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempted to use their research to justify the administration's crackdown on sanctuary cities. As it turns out, other studies have found that counties with sanctuary policies are safer and more prosperous than those without.

Finally, while Corcoran is correct that it has been the Florida Senate that has defeated harsh anti-immigrant policies during past legislative sessions, he forgets to mention that it has been members of his party, who represent some of the most diverse and culturally rich parts of Florida, who thwarted legislation similar to HB 9. And with good reason, as it would likely end up costing Florida residents thousands of taxpayer dollars in legal challenges to such laws.

What Speaker Corcoran should do is stop using sanctuary policies, which are nonexistent across Florida, to push problematic legislation that could lead to the racial profiling and discrimination against our immigrant friends and neighbors.

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Florida is home to a vast and diverse immigrant community that should be celebrated, not demonized.

Corcoran, whose not-so-secret intention is to jump into next year's gubernatorial race, is attempting to use his position in the Florida Legislature to score political points with the far right and force Trump's un-American immigration agenda down the throats of all Floridians.

The Florida Senate should do what it has done in the past: Cool down the emotional outbursts of the Florida House and put an end to Speaker Corcoran's political games.

Juan Escalante is an immigration advocate and a beneficiary of President Barack Obama's 2012 DACA program. He obtained degrees from Florida State University in 2011 and 2015 and lives in Tallahassee.

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