Latest Iteration of Rehashed Legislation Aimed to Bolster DeSantis will Face Challenges
MIAMI – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued the following statement by Anne Janet Hernandez Anderson, a Senior Supervising Attorney with the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project, on the proposed SB1808 legislation ahead of today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“Once again, rather than tackling the myriad of challenges facing Floridians every day, a handful of state legislators are putting the Governor’s personal ambitions ahead of their obligations to the communities they were elected to represent. This is just the latest effort to use legislation to demonize immigrant children and communities across the state to distract from the Governor’s failures, corruption, and wasteful spending to defend his unconstitutional priorities.
“This legislation would harm local governments by dictating limits on municipal contracts, force law enforcement agencies to waste already stretched taxpayer funds on federal immigration programs, reduce travel into the State of Florida, and prevent the reunification of immigrant children with their families.
“While much of it is simply rehashed pieces of the anti-sanctuary bill, it is sad that Republican legislators are doubling down on Gov. DeSantis’ efforts to use children as pawns to further his xenophobic agenda. The common carrier provision seeks to expand on DeSantis’ recent executive order by preventing children from being reunited with their families. Children who came through Operation Pedro Pan, an exodus of unaccompanied Cuban children at the onset of the dictatorship, would have been impacted by this policy shift.
“This bill is no different than past efforts – including 2019’s infamous anti-sanctuary law (“SB 168”) which cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars only to be mostly blocked by a federal judge. If this bill moves forward, there is no doubt it will result in the further waste of untold amounts of taxpayer dollars while achieving none of its stated goals. And, if it is enacted, we will stand with our community partners and once again fight to stop these despicable and unconstitutional measures.”
In September, the last anti-sanctuary bill pushed by Gov. DeSantis and his racist allies in the Florida legislature, suffered a major blow when a federal court ruled that key provisions violated the Equal Protection Clause and Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution in a decisive victory for communities who fought to defeat the law beginning in 2019.
The decision cited the racist foundations of the law with Judge Beth Bloom writing, “[T]he Sanctuary Prohibition was enacted based on biased and unreliable data generated by anti-immigrant hate groups FAIR and CIS, despite the chilling effect and disparate impact that this provision would have on immigrant communities.”
A recent Tampa Bay Times article, quoted Peter Routsis-Arroyo, CEO of Catholic Charities, who oversees the Msgr. Bryan Walsh Children’s Village (also known as “Boys Town”), which started by serving Pedro Pan children saying, “When we took them in they were not refugees, they were unaccompanied minors,” and the children being served now “are fleeing conditions very similar to that.”