Immigration

Facing public pressure, Sen. Gruters adds immigration ‘listening tour’ stop in Miami

Florida Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota has proposed a bill that would punish people who abandon their dogs by tethering them during a manmade or natural disaster.
Florida Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota has proposed a bill that would punish people who abandon their dogs by tethering them during a manmade or natural disaster. Bradenton Herald

Sen. Joe Gruters’ immigration “listening tour” is stopping in Miami after all.

The Sarasota Republican and chairman of the Republican Party of Florida was the face of a ban on so-called “sanctuary cities,” which was signed into law after quiet yet consistent pressure from Gov. Ron DeSantis and vocal pushback from immigrant advocates and attorneys across the state.

The initial six-city tour announcement Aug. 1 faced criticism on Twitter for not including any stops in South Florida, a top-five region for undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Gruters and Rep. Cord Byrd, a Neptune Beach Republican who carried the “sanctuary cities” bill in the House, will be stopping at the Renaissance Ballrooms (5910 SW 8th St., Miami) on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at 10 a.m.

Gruters says he added the stop in response to feedback he received after his announcement.

“There seemed to be a lot of interest in having one in the Miami area and we are trying to go where people want us,” Gruters wrote in a text message.

The tour originally listed stops in Venice, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville, Melbourne and Fort Myers. Gruters and Byrd also planned on visiting the migrant detention center located in Homestead, which is no longer housing migrant children.

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“Now that the children have been removed, it is a maybe,” Gruters said. “We will decide once we hear back on our request.”

Also joining the tour will be Senate President Pro Tempore David Simmons, who has plans to stop in Orlando and potentially two other cities.

Simmons, an Altamonte Springs Republican, has said he will file legislation that would give undocumented immigrants legal permits to work and drive in Florida, in an effort to bring them “out of the shadows” and follow state laws.

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The policy change could potentially effect the 800,000 undocumented immigrants living in the state.

Simons has not yet filed the legislation.

The website and marketing for the tour were paid for by Florida Conservatives United, Gruters’ political committee.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Sen. Simmons will be attending the tour in Miami. He will be attending in Orlando.

Samantha J. Gross is a politics and policy reporter for the Miami Herald. Before she moved to the Sunshine State, she covered breaking news at the Boston Globe and the Dallas Morning News.
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