Immigration Divide: Past and present with a lawmaker and a historian
This week, WMFE is reporting on some of the issues surrounding Florida’s new immigration law, SB-1718. It took effect at the beginning of July.
The law limits social services for undocumented immigrants, tightens E-Verify requirements for businesses with at least 25 employees, and requires hospitals that get Medicaid dollars to ask for a patient's immigration status, among other things.
While Florida is taking a tough stance on immigration, this has not always been the case.
As part of our series, “Central Florida Seen and Heard: Immigration Divide,” WMFE’s Talia Blake spoke with Republican lawmaker Randy Fine about the new law here, while WMFE’s Nicole Darden Creston spoke with University of Central Florida historian Dr. Luis Martinez-Fernandez about how the state's stance on immigration has changed.
The conversation with Martinez-Fernandez starts with Operation Peter Pan in the early 1960s, when thousands of Cuban children were sent to Florida by parents who feared for their safety after Fidel Castro took power.
He says Florida welcomed the unaccompanied minors in a way it wouldn't now.
But state Republican Rep. Randy Fine says Florida’s new immigration law SB-1718 is designed to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants to the state.
He sponsored the bill in the Florida House and spoke with WMFE’s Talia Blake.
Fine accuses President Joe Biden for having an open border policy. However, under the Biden policy, authorities were told to deport non-US citizens who are a threat to national security, public safety, or border security, while those who have lived in the country for a long period of time with no issue were deprioritized.
In the 2023-2024 budget, Florida allocated $108 million to grow the Florida State Guard in an effort to protect the border and $12 million to facilitate in the transportation of undocumented immigrants.
This story is part of our deep-dive look at possible impacts of Florida’s new immigration law with our series Central Florida Seen and Heard: Immigration Divide.