Miami Republican Backs Bill Giving Rick Scott Military Power Against Immigrants

Gov. Rick Scott could use the military against immigrants under a House bill advanced yesterday.
Gov. Rick Scott could use the military against immigrants under a House bill advanced yesterday.
photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

An anti-immigration bill with language so harsh it makes Donald Trump sound like Cesar Chavez by comparison is advancing through Tallahassee right now. How strong are the provisions in HB 1095, the "Prevention of Acts of War"?

Not only would the bill let Florida's governor ban immigrants or refugees from any country he deems dangerous, it would also prohibit any Floridians receiving any kind of state assistance — including Medicare or welfare — from helping such refugees and require them to immediately turn over information about those immigrants.  And just to top it off, the bill would even let Gov. Rick Scott use the military to keep such "restricted" people out of the state. 

Over-the-top? Not according to Rep. Carlos Trujillo, the Miami Republican who chairs the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, which passed the bill yesterday. Trujillo says the proposal is a reaction to GOP lawmakers' fears that federal officials aren't properly screening Middle Eastern refugees.

"Our governor along with 30 other governors have [sic] requested information from the White House about who these refugees are, where they're located and what their background is," Trujillo tells New Times. "At no point has the executive branch shared this information."

Of course that's not how Democrats see the plan. The bill wasn't even debated in Trujillo's committee because Dems found it so laughable. 

"It's hard to dignify a bill like that by debating it," Democratic Rep. Dave Kerner of Lake Worth told the Associated Press. "It's unconstitutional, it's offensive, it does nothing for the safety and protection of our state and it's highly ineffective and very subjective. I could go on for hours about problems I have with the bill."

The bill — which would also let the state monitor refugees — is just the latest virulently anti-immigration bill headed through Tally, including a proposal sponsored by Trujillo to hit previously deported immigrants who come back into the U.S. with a third-degree felony. Critics say such bills are tossing gasoline onto a Trump-fueled anti-immigration fire nationwide.

But Trujillo — an attorney based in Coral Gables — says Trump has nothing to do with it. He points to the San Bernadino shooting and other acts of violence committed by immigrants. "I think the media wants to credit Donald Trump, but he has nothing to do with it," Trujillo says.

As for the "Preventing Acts of War" bill, it's got two other committees to clear before getting a full airing in the House; a Senate companion hasn't been heard yet.

By the way, Trujillo says he's not actually backing Trump in the primaries. "I was just in New Hampshire working for Jeb Bush," he says.  


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