Fabiola Santiago

Get a clue, Mr. Speaker: There are no sanctuary cities in Florida to ban

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran AP

Perhaps the “illegal aliens” in the Sunshine State have absconded to another galaxy.

That might account for Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran having to reach all the way to Pier 14 in San Francisco to find an undocumented immigrant to vilify — a homeless undocumented man convicted of five felonies charged with shooting a young woman and now on trial.

Kate Steinle’s accused murderer became the poster boy for anti-immigrant rants during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — and Corcoran, now by all accounts prepping to run for governor, has brought him back in a call to the Legislature to “ban sanctuary cities in Florida.”

The Republican from Land O’Lakes used as his pulpit an op-ed published in the Tampa Bay Times that contained little if any truth.

He claims sanctuary cities are growing in number when the opposite is true, thanks to repeated threats by Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to defund municipalities that don’t hold the undocumented in prisons after they complete their sentences until migration authorities come for them.

There’s no better example than what happened in Miami-Dade County, which had landed on the federal list of sanctuaries during the Obama administration after the county commission passed a resolution refusing to hold immigrants at taxpayer expense until ICE found it convenient to get around to picking them up.

It was an honorable resolution — its foundation being constitutional amendments that guarantee due process to any person within U.S. jurisdiction. But as soon as Trump issued his threat our spineless mayor and commissioners rescinded it to our shame. Now, even people jailed for minor infractions are being held for ICE by the county. Sessions threw himself a victory party in town.

Corcoran knows that. He’s been coming to Miami to glad-hand since his political ambition shifted to the governor’s mansion. And he not only counts most of the conservative Republican Cuban Americans in the Legislature among his allies, but one of them, Jose R. Oliva, will be the next speaker.

So, I asked Corcoran, what other sanctuary cities and derelict law enforcement agencies exist in the state of Florida that, with all the real and pressing issues in the state, the speaker has to use precious media space to peddle the sanctuary city bill, HB 9? It was introduced for the third year by Larry Metz of Yalaha, who has all the Republican credentials in the book, including NRA membership, and is married to a Japanese immigrant.

But Corcoran has made it his own.

“Our bill is simple: State and local governments must comply with and support enforcement of federal immigration laws — end of story,” Corcoran wrote in the Times. “Any elected officials who think they can circumvent the Constitution and the laws of our nation will face significant penalties, along with suspension or removal from office.”

On and on goes the hyperbole, the evocation of false American exceptionalism, and the throwing around of bait words like “liberals” and “the amnesty crowd.”

Corcoran wants you, the voters, to believe that this “anti-American phenomenon” could be “plaguing our state.”

“Not on my watch,” this Trump wannabe brags.

Yet, despite my requests to Corcoran and several of his staff members, they have not provided a list of sanctuary cities or derelict law enforcement agencies in Florida — or that matter, any comment — as of this writing.

That’s because there are no sanctuary cities in Florida to ban, Mr. Speaker.

The issue and Corcoran and company’s Draconian crackdown are nonsense.

There’s more abuse of the poor and undocumented in Florida than there are murders or serious crimes committed by them.

But is there a better way to distract Florida voters from the sexual scandals in Tallahassee than playing the card of immigrant bashing?

And is there a better way for Corcoran to catch up to another gubernatorial candidate, Adam Putnam? When I met Putnam at a Miami Herald Editorial Board meeting he sounded like a normal Republican. On the campaign trail, though, he has become another Trump.

There’s no stooping low enough when it comes to bagging that Trump voter in Florida in 2018.

But they’d both do well to remember what happened to one of their own, former Rep. Jose Felix Diaz. The Republican and Trump friend was thought to be a shoo-in for the state Senate, yet was recently defeated by a Democrat. And do I even need to mention the national Democratic electoral sweep just a week ago?

A lot of Americans are sick of divisive politics. Playing despicable anti-immigrant Trump-style politics at the expense of human beings may not be a winning hand after all.