February 1, 2017
On January 24, HB 120 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) was passed (5-4) by its first committee of reference. The bill provides that undocumented immigrants who commit crimes will be sentenced more harshly solely because of their undocumented status.
In testimony before the committee and in a
to the bill sponsor, Michael Sheedy, FCCB executive director, expressed significant concern with the measure. By increasing a first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony, SB 120 almost certainly will prevent some undocumented individuals from adjusting to a future legal status. This will have a detrimental impact on the economic and social stability of the individual and his or her family. Sheedy urged the Senate to instead send a resolution to Florida's congressional delegation in support of comprehensive immigration reform.
In the Florida House, Representative David Santiago (R-Deltona) has filed a bill (HB 427) that requires the state to withdraw from the federally-funded refugee program by December 31, 2017. This would require the federal government to transfer program coordination to a private agency or agencies. Restructuring this important program at a time of such policy upheaval at the federal level "will only exacerbate the strain to providers with a potentially negative impact on refugees, Cubans and other new arrivals, and also on the communities welcoming them," stated Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, FCCB president, in recent
to Governor Rick Scott and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran.