Florida Memory

Leon County officials and the Haitian community are rushing to aid the victims of this weekend’s bus crash in Wakulla.

Sharnoff's Global Views/ flickr /

An international refugee crisis, and the growth of ISIS abroad and online, are sending shockwaves around the world. Some of those shocks are rippling through the Florida Legislature. Some state lawmakers are moving forward with plans to give the governor sweeping powers over immigration.

jvoves/ flickr /

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

Rep. Larry Metz (R-Yalaha)
Florida Channel

Republican state lawmakers are taking aim at Florida’s so-called sanctuary cities.  A measure requiring local governments to comply with federal immigration agencies passed its first committee Wednesday.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency
(UNRWA via AP, File)

North Florida Congresswoman Gwen Graham voted in favor of a controversial bill Thursday that could make it more difficult for Syrian refugees to enter the US.

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks more than 30 state governors have asked Congress to stop Syrian Refugees from resettling in the U.S. Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to tighten controls on refugees coming to the U.S. from Syria and Iraq. Local immigration attorney Elizabeth Ricci says American policy for accepting refugees is much tougher than it is for immigrants.

Clara Solano and her son Rey, with Florida State University's Loyda Lopez at the WFSU studios.
LHatter / WFSUNews

Florida State University is host to many summer camps—from music to science. But it’s also reached out to the state’s migrant community in an effort to help kids learn English.

State Republicans want presidential nominees to tone it down when it comes to immigration.
John Paul Dantanus

A group of Republicans in the Florida Legislature are calling on their party to develop new ideas for immigration reform.  The topic promises to be a point of contention in the coming presidential election.

Pam Bondi

Florida will go to court over President Obama’s recent order granting additional protections to millions of undocumented immigrants.

Florida attorney General Pam Bondi announced Friday the state will join with Texas to sue the Obama Administration over what it describes as an overreach. The move is a response to President Obama’s executive order which allowing millions of undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States without fear of deportation.

In a statement, Bondi says the lawsuit is not about immigration, but about laws.

Capital Report: 11-28-2014

Dec 1, 2014

Usually, after an election, Tallahassee turns into the sleepy southern town it really is.  Political exhaustion prompts lots of people to take a few weeks off.  And other than the cardiac arrests caused by the way Florida State University has so far won all its games this season, Florida’s Capital City has recently been a fairly sedate place.  But that tranquility was shattered in the early morning hours of November nineteenth and again on November twenty-second.  Lynn Hatter reports those two tragedies, which left two people dead and several others hurt, have shaken the city to its very co

American voters are almost spilt down the middle on their views about President Obama’s immigration move, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today.

The poll shows that 45 percent registered voters say the president should issue an executive order if Congress fails to act, while 48 percent say he should not.

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.

Elizabeth Ricci

Tallahassee resident Mario Hernandez has become a naturalized citizen after decades of thinking he already was  one. 

Hernandez came to the U.S. in the ‘60s from Cuba.  He was 9 years old.  Over the next few years, Hernandez lived a normal American life in Fullerton, California.  When he went into the Army in 1975, his citizenship status was checked, but in an interview with WFSU this March, Hernandez said he sailed right through the hearing.

The children of undocumented immigrants could soon be eligible for the in-state tuition rate at Florida’s public colleges and universities. A House bill allowing the change is heading to the chamber floor, signaling a change of heart by Republicans who have opposed the measure in years past.

Florida Senate/Florida House

A couple of Florida lawmakers are renewing a push to give children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition at public universities.

Miami Senator Dwight Bullard and Orlando Representative Victor Torres are the bill’s authors. It’s Bullard’s fourth time filing the bill—twice in the House, and now twice in the Senate. Torres has his name on the bill for the first time—a bill he says is about prosperity for future generations.

It’s About Florida: Immigration

Jun 21, 2013

As the U.S. Senate debates a bill aimed at overhauling the nation’s immigration laws we speak with two guests with different perspectives on how such a bill will impact the lives of Floridians.

Rich Templin, Florida AFLCIO
Jack Oliver, Floridians for Immigration Enforcement

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.

It's the American dream: move to the United States, start your own business, build a successful life. But has the United States lost its edge in attracting the best and brightest entrepreneurs?  In this month's America Abroad, we'll learn about the significant role immigrants play in creating small and mid-sized businesses. We'll hear how the American visa process could be deterring potential entrepreneurs, particularly from math and engineering-focused places like India.

Florida’s 2013 lawmaking session is slowly fading into the mists of history.  But although lawmakers may have finished their work, some of what they did or didn’t do could prompt much more work on the part of the state’s courts.  It’s a bit like a game of legal ping pong.

Florida used to have a law that fined people whose car radios could be heard more than 25 feet away. Last year, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of a man who challenged that law. The verdict? Turn it up.

Should the U.S. born children of undocumented immigrants be allowed to attend Florida colleges and universities at the in-state tuition price? The Florida House of Representative thinks so. The House passed a measure Friday that lets those students pay in-state rather than out-of state tuition provided they can prove they actually reside in Florida.

R.Benk / WFSU-FM

Members of the Florida Immigrant Coalition traveled to Tallahassee from around the state to greet the newest members of the Florida Legislature that were sworn in Tuesday. The group, which is made up of various immigrant rights organizations, wants to make sure immigrant’s voices are heard in the upcoming legislative session.

The group is working to shed light on immigrant issues in Florida and around the nation. Organizer Melissa McGuire-Maniau said, after a strong Hispanic turnout in the last election, lawmakers should know that they’re not going anywhere.

Changes Coming To Cuban Migration Policies

Oct 19, 2012

Earlier this week the Cuban government announced it would make travel in and out of the country easier.  But experts say the changes won’t make much of a difference to most Cuban citizens.

Guarioné Diaz, President Emeritus of the Cuban-American National Council, said while the Cuban government has make changes to their immigration policies, those changes are essentially just skin deep.


A federal judge in Miami has ruled that children of undocumented immigrants living in Florida should receive the lower in-state tuition rate for public colleges and universities. The issue has been a long-running dispute in Florida. Despite the judge’s ruling, children of undocumented immigrants, especially those brought to the country when they were younger, still face many challenges.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is defending Florida’s Voter purge.  reports Rubio made the statements on NPR’s Diane Rehm show Thursday where he also discussed his positions on immigration.

Senator Marco Rubio says he believes Florida’s attempt to purge its voter rolls of non-citizens is a good thing.