Banning sanctuary cities has a very real chance of passing in Florida this year — and that’s creating an emotion-driven battle with Democrats and the open-borders lobby.
The sanctuary bill sponsored by Sarasota Republican Sen. Joe Gruters — who is also Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida — has become the most contentious issue of the year in the seemingly always-contentious Florida Legislature.
While such legislation has not gone anywhere in past sessions, it is fast-tracked this year with the Republican leadership structure all onboard. Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose popularity has swelled since his narrow election in November, is a major supporter of President Trump’s immigration and border security policies while former Gov. Rick Scott’s support on the issue was somewhat tepid.
So legislators in the GOP-controlled Legislature are pushing legislation that would clearly define what constitutes sanctuary policies — one of the problems plaguing the issue — and would prohibit any state or local governments from adopting such policies, formally or informally.
Of course the importance of Florida in national elections as the largest swing state in the nation is well-known. But it can also be a bellwether state as far as what is acceptable to the broader American electorate. With its huge population of immigrated Midwesterners, Southerners and Northeasterners, no state is more representative of America than Florida.
If a strong sanctuary city ban can be passed in Florida, then it may have the politically broad support that it seems to have in the polls. And that makes it a winner in 2020 for Republicans.
All of which is bringing out the long knives of the Democrat Left.
First came the press conferences with the most sympathetic representatives opposing a ban on sanctuary cities — young adults who were brought illegally as young children and are now allowed to stay here legally through DACA…but their parents are not. These people tell the stories of how hard it was growing up and not being able to travel freely or do some of the other things that legal American children could do because their families were not supposed to be here — although they are allowed to do all those things now. (Speakers included Florida State University students, so not suffering too badly.) Gratitude is not usually much a part of these dog-and-pony shows.
Second, the slime machine known as the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is slowly but steadily being discredited even in parts of the media, is still used by too many gullible or biased reporters as a legitimate source. And so the SPLC launched an attack on the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Gruters, by trying to tie him to what they describe as a hate group — the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR.
Here’s how Zac Anderson, the political reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune put it, acting as a gullible tool for the SPLC as he has in the past against Republicans:
“Several people associated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform — an organization branded by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group” — provided input to Sarasota state Sen. Joe Gruters and his staff as they worked to advance so-called “sanctuary city” immigration enforcement legislation.
An email obtained by the Herald-Tribune shows that David Jaroslav, the state and local legislative manager for FAIR, worked with Floridians for Immigration Enforcement to offer advice for Gruters’ staff on how to the defend the sanctuary bill against critics. Jaroslav emailed comments to Floridians for Immigration Enforcement President Kenneth Morrow Jr., who passed the comments on to Gruters’ staff.”
Notice the tenuousness of the connections. A person or people connected to FAIR (not a hate group) sent Gruter’s staff emails on how to defend against critics. But here’s the headline: “Members of alleged hate group linked to Sarasota legislator’s immigration bill.” Well that sounds a whole lot worse than was actually backed up in the article, which itself is a sham because it rests on the SPLC’s increasingly discredited hate list.
Of course, the branding of FAIR as a hate group when their policies are not hateful and their web site is very specifically opposed to any form of discrimination, is absurd. The SPLC takes two or three comments of the founder from 25-40 years ago, without context, and labels the group hateful to this day — exactly like they would never do with the far more extensive hateful and blatantly racist writings of, say, the founder of Planned Parenthood.
There continues to be this symbiotic relationship between the SPLC and willing dupes in the media. The SPLC has used both the Trump presidency to promote the misinformation that hate crimes are on the rise, and also success in media coverage hammering conservatives, as leverage for record amounts of fundraising — doubling funding since 2015. This, even while Politico, the Atlantic and others are increasingly questioning the SPLC’s legitimacy.
The bill’s definition of sanctuary cities is important. The primary reason there are officially no sanctuary cities or counties in Florida is because there is no agreed upon definition of what constitutes a sanctuary policy. But there are some communities who do not particularly cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials when the agency issues an immigration detainer asking police to hold someone who is suspected of being in the country illegally, along with other cooperative issues.
Expect more dirt and media complicity in the fight for the rule of law, and of order, in Florida — reflecting the rest of the country. And the front line of that fight is sanctuary cities.
Rod Thomson is an author, host of Tampa Bay Business with Rod Thomson on the Salem Radio Network, TV commentator and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod also is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.