Immigration reform

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Florida’s Haitian immigrants are getting a six month reprieve on deportation orders. Advocates are claiming a small victory, but the timeline falls short of what many hoped for. Some are worried the community’s special status may be coming to an end.

United Nations Development Programme via flickr /

A Florida lawmaker is criticizing the federal government’s temporary extension of special status for Haitian immigrants. After the 2010 earthquake, the federal government allowed thousands of Haitians to take refuge in the U.S. This week President Donald Trump extended those protections again, but by six months, not the eighteen months advocates hoped for. /

Florida voters delivered Donald Trump some 99 delegates Tuesday, bringing him one big step closer to the nomination. But the Trump phenomenon has two sides: for and against.

Kate Payne/ WFSU

With the end in sight, different groups are closing out the 2016 lawmaking session in different ways. Immigration activists convened at the state capitol Thursday to "bury" a package of dead bills.

Michael Coghlan/ flickr /

At the heart of modern political debates is the role and size of government: to expand or regulate, support or restrict. And for many, the crux of the issue is how government should handle the disadvantaged. This week, Florida lawmakers considered two sides of the same coin: public assistance.

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Wednesday evening the Florida House passed a bill that would prohibit sanctuary cities in the state. The bill may stall out in the Senate.

Sharnoff's Global Views/ flickr /

Fueled by strong rhetoric and an international refugee crisis, some Florida lawmakers want to give broad immigration oversight to the governor.

jvoves/ flickr /

Communities that provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants are coming under fire in the Florida legislature.

Kate Payne/ WFSU

Lawmakers and lobbyists are not the only people converging on the Capitol to mark the beginning of Session. For a group of immigration rights activists, the day was not all pomp and circumstance.

James Clarke Ash

Republican backlash against federal immigration policy is reverberating in Tallahassee, with a handful of conservatives pushing get-tough proposals.

After Mr. Obama's announcement of executive action, the face of immigration could become far more complex.
Gerson Galang via Flickr

Former Florida Governor and GOP Presidential candidate Jeb Bush has unveiled an immigration reform plan.  Bush posted details of his proposal to the social media website, and it features a pathway to citizenship.

After President Barack Obama unveiled his executive action on immigration Thursday, a lot of Florida immigration experts and lawyers are getting calls from those who want to know how it affects them.

Since the announcement, Tallahassee Immigration Lawyer Elizabeth Ricci says her phone has been ringing off the hook.

“And, of course, a lot of my clients and members of the community watched it and heard it and have been calling and messaging and wanting to know if they’re eligible,” said Ricci.

florida leaders Immigration reform
Matthew Stolpe / WFSU News

Florida reform advocates held a press conference in Tallahassee Wednesday calling for immigration law reform.

MGN Online

A coalition of business groups in the farming and construction industry is calling on Congressional leaders to make immigration reform a priority—particularly immigration visas.

Bayshore Solutions’ Vice President and COO Rick Watson says he’d like to see the expansion of what’s called the H-2B visa program, which allows non-agricultural employers to hire immigrants to come to the U.S. temporarily.

MGN Online

A coalition of conservative groups are calling on Florida’s Congressional delegation to help get immigration reform done on a federal level. They say Congress should take its cues from the Republican-led Florida Legislature, which already passed a couple of immigration reforms this year.

State lawmakers approved measures allowing children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition and they also paved the way for non-citizens to practice law in Florida. Al Cardenas, the Chairman of the American Conservative Union, says that sends a strong message.

Michael Fleshman via Flickr

Hispanic Democratic Florida lawmakers are rallying to change state professional-licensing requirements after the Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday undocumented immigrants cannot be admitted to the Florida Bar as lawyers. At the same time, undocumented students called on President Barack Obama to push federal immigration reform as he visited Miami today.

Several presidents of Florida’s colleges and universities are hoping to make their case to Congress that passing immigration reform is a good investment for the nation as a whole.

Florida Institute of Technology President Anthony Catanese says studies show most students receiving masters and doctorates in the STEM fields—Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—are international students. He says Congress should think about passing an immigration overhaul because of the economic benefits that data offers.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

On Monday, a group of Jamaican workers in the U.S. on work visas filed a complaint with the federal government claiming their Panhandle-based employer abuses them. Several labor unions and civil rights groups are pointing to the alleged abuse as an example of the need for comprehensive federal immigration reform.

Recent polls show most Floridians in favor of an immigration overhaul bill pending in Congress. The effort is partly spearheaded by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who may even have the backing of Governor Rick Scott. But the road to immigration reform is a rocky one in Florida.

Outside Senator Marco Rubio’s Tallahassee Office, a large, brightly colored bus pulls up.  One by one, a group of nuns step out to cheers and applause:

Florida Farm Bureau

Florida’s Agriculture Industry is the second largest in the state. It’s also at the center of major debates over immigration reform environmental preservation, and an ongoing effort to save citrus trees.

A few weeks ago, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam issued this assessment on the future of Florida’s citrus industry:

“This matters to every Floridian because of the profound economic impact it has on so many of our interior counties. You’re talking about a footprint of half a million acres for which there is really no plan B."

The immigration reform debate is front and center in Florida as the U.S. Senate discusses an immigration overhaul.

Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of the bill creating a faster path for some young undocumented immigrants to get temporary Florida driver licenses could be backfiring, even among his supporters. Scott says the veto was based on a policy change by President Obama, not a specific act of Congress. But Jack Oliver, with the group Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, says he’s not impressed with the Governor’s reasoning:

Scott Vetoes Driver's Licenses For Immigrants

Jun 5, 2013

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday vetoed a bill intended to help young undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses, saying a White House policy linked to the measure was never approved by Congress.

Sen. Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, called the veto a missed opportunity for the governor to help foreigners who come to Florida and expects the rejection to be seen as "anti-Hispanic" at a time when the Republican Party has sought to boost its appeal among minorities.

LHatter / WFSU

Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio a one of a bipartisan group of senators backing an immigration overhaul bill in Congress. But Rubio is trying to balance the wants of immigration reform supporters, with members of political his base: who largely oppose things like a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

A new poll released by pro-immigration groups the Florida New Majority and Project New America shows a majority of Floridians support immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship. But, Project New America’s Director of Research, David Winkler said Floridians are divided on how an immigration overhaul might affect the economy.

If Nov. 7 brought pangs of withdrawal from the end of the presidential race — good news!

The next one has already started.

Witness last week's dust-up over the American Conservative Union's failure to invite New Jersey's Chris Christie, one of the most popular Republican governors in the country, to its annual Conservative Political Action Conference. And if that flew under the radar, this week's book tour launch by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has removed all doubt that the countdown to Iowa has begun.