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New immigration decisions create uncertainty in Florida

Kimberly Leonard's must-read briefing on what's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State
Sep 14, 2023 View in browser

By Kimberly Leonard

Migrants, who arrived on a flight sent by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, gather with their belongings outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard. | Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via AP Photo

Good morning and welcome to Thursday.

Breaking last night: A federal judge in Texas ruled once again that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is unlawful. The decision, along with a separate ruling on Cubans, could have wide-ranging implications for nearly 800,000 undocumented people in Florida.

Catching up: Last night's ruling kept work permits and deportation protections in place, for now, for 580,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. The judge, a President George W. Bush appointee, determined that such changes to immigration rules needed to pass through Congress rather than through the executive branch.

Timing: The ruling comes after another significant decision on immigration Monday, this one from the federal Board of Immigration Appeals, that will prevent many Cubans from getting green cards to stay in the U.S. Last year, thousands of Cuban migrants tried to get to the U.S. via the Straits of Florida.

Today also marks one year since Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a plane carrying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., as part of a political stunt to put President Joe Biden and other Democrats on the spot over illegal immigration. Federal agencies are still weighing whether the transport violated any laws, and a federal lawsuit filed in Massachusetts is still pending. Since the flights, DeSantis has authorized new laws that make it harder for undocumented people to work in Florida.

People and businesses hit: The actions at the federal, state and judicial level are injecting more uncertainty for the future of undocumented people in the state. Because of Florida’s laws, undocumented people are avoiding seeking health care, opting out of working this year’s planting season as well as Hurricane Idalia rebuilding efforts.

All of these factors could drive up prices. In an interview with the Miami Herald Wednesday, Acting Secretary of Labor Julie A. Su warned in a visit to Miami that “anti-immigrant policies are exacerbating employers’ challenges in finding workers.”

DeSantis has sought to make undocumented immigration a key part of his presidential run. Speaking on Fox New Channel’s Sean Hannity last night, DeSantis called the border a “disaster” and reiterated his plans to declare undocumented immigration a “national emergency” and to dispatch the military to the border. “We're going to build the wall, stop the invasion,” he said. “I am going to treat the Mexican drug cartels as the foreign terrorist groups that they are.”

What’s next: The Biden administration is expected to appeal the DACA ruling, and the case’s next stop would be the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and after that a petition to the Supreme Court. The decision on Cuban migration also can be appealed.

— WHERE'S RON? Gov. DeSantis will be fundraising in New York where he’ll be hosted by Wall Street executives. He’ll later attend a lunch hosted by Emil Henry, the CEO of private equity firm Tiger Infrastructure Partners, according to CNBC.

Have a tip, story, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch at: [email protected]


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Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) speaks to reporters on his way to a classified all-Senate briefing on Artificial Intelligence at the U.S. Capitol on July 11, 2023 in Washington, D.C. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

ON TAP TONIGHT — The Republican Party of Florida is holding its Statesman’s Dinner at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, where over 800 people are expected to attend even though neither Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis nor former President Donald Trump will be there. Speakers include U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Attorney General Ashley Moody, House Speaker Paul Renner, CFO Jimmy Patronis and Agricultural Commissioner Wilton Simpson. The event will coincide with the party’s quarterly meeting on Friday.

GUEST LIST — Tonight's attendees from the Legislature are expected to include: Sens. Debbie Mayfield, Erin Grall, Clay Yarborough, Ileana Garcia, Doug Broxson, Alexis Calatayud, Dennis Baxley, Keith Perry, Gayle Harrell and Reps. Susan Plasecia, Carolina Amesty, Ryan Chamberlin, Tom Leek, Stan McClain, Keith Truenow, Bob Rommel, Berny Jacques, Webster Barnaby, Michelle Salzman, David Smith, Alex Rizo and Peggy Gossett-Seidman.

DEADLINE — State agency legislative budget requests are due tomorrow.

CONFLICTING GUIDANCE — Florida surgeon general rejects FDA and CDC guidance, urges people under 65 not to get Covid booster, by POLITICO’s Arek Sarkissian: Previous guidance by Dr. Joseph Ladapo about Covid-19 vaccine safety has been widely rejected by the medical community. Daniel Salmon, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University, said Wednesday it appeared that Ladapo and the others at a virtual roundtable held Wednesday about Covid vaccines were selectively highlighting data to show problems with the new boosters.

SCHOOL VOUCHERS — “Joint letter asks Florida education head for transparency on universal vouchers,” by Florida Phoenix’s Christian Casale: “Little is known about the characteristics of the students applying, the future budgetary consequences of these scholarships, and the likely downstream impact on public schools,” according to a letter sent to Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. on Wednesday.

— “Florida temporarily suspends political ideology surveys on college campuses,” by Fresh Take Florida’s Sandra McDonald


Walt Disney World and Disneyland closed their doors on Thursday due to coronavirus. | Orlando Sentinel via AP

OVERSIGHT DISTRICT CHAIR SLAMS DISNEY LAWSUIT — Martin Garcia, the chairman of the board for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, slammed Walt Disney World on Wednesday over its federal lawsuit, which the company recently narrowed to only its First Amendment complaint alleging political retaliation from the governor. The other claims had been about development contracts.

Garcia called the retractions an “extraordinary concession” and a “mockery of the legal system.” He accused Disney of only having filed a lawsuit against the board in federal court as a “publicity stunt.”

“Disney backtracked, effectively conceding that it never should have filed the four federal causes of actions against this board in the first place,” he said.

Representatives for Disney did not respond to a request for comment. The board is also counter-suing Disney in state court.

DISNEY PARKS PERKS TO GET ADJUSTED — Glen Gilzean, the administrator for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, said during Wednesday’s budget meeting that he’d met with more than 150 district workers to sort out the dispute over annual passes to Walt Disney World that were set to be discontinued due to conflict-of-interest laws.

Gilzean and the district board initially proposed replacing the passes with $1,000 stipends, after taxes, that could be used not just at Disney but at any business in the area. That figure, however, would only make up the difference for roughly a two-person family — far less than the three to five additional tickets workers got used to. It was met with backlash and emotional testimony by district workers.

In response, Gilzean said Wednesday that he wanted to raise the stipend and would announce the amount at the next district meeting on Sept. 27. “Your message is loud and clear,” he said. “These benefits are not only personal to you but to your family.”

Gilzean also announced a new benefit that would allow fully paid sick leave for district employees who needed treatment after a cancer diagnosis.

ARREST — Man arrested for hanging antisemitic banners from Orlando bridge, by POLITICO’s Mia McCarthy: Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement said that Jason Brown, 48, hung the banners on June 10 in violation of a new law DeSantis signed last April that prohibits people from displaying images on a building or structure without permission.

— “Fentanyl drug overdoses drop in Florida, but rise in Miami,” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres


FLYING PJ — “DeSantis took undisclosed private flights and lodging through wealthy donors,” by Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey: DeSantis “took at least six undisclosed trips on private jets and accepted lodging and dining in late 2018, according to flight manifests, tracking data and other documents obtained by The Washington Post that reflect his proclivity for luxury travel and leisure time with wealthy donors.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — DeSantis is 45 today. If he were to become president he wouldn’t be the youngest president in history (that record’s set by Theodore Roosevelt, who was 42), but he would be the first from Gen. X. He’d also have to work with a Congress that’s decidedly older, on average, than he is.

DeSantis has needled Biden, 80, as well as Trump, 77, over their ages. He told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell this week that “the presidency is not a job for someone that’s 80 years old.”

Age limit in politics? DeSantis went on to say that the founders probably would have put an age ceiling on the presidency if they’d known people’s life expectancies would greatly extend. He didn’t go so far as to endorse a cap like 2024 rival former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has done, but he did say that, “Americans are going to want to see a generational passing of the torch.”

What the polling says: Most Americans highlight Biden’s age when asked why he shouldn’t run again, and it appears to be a bigger liability for him than it does for Trump. Yet septuagenarian Trump and octogenarian Biden still remain the frontrunners in the polls and are neck in neck in the presidential race.

— “DeSantis names Miami Beach real estate investor, donor to FIU Board of Trustees,” by Miami Herald’s Max Greenwood: The investor is Yaffa Popack, who co-owns Lauderdale Lakes-based YMP Real Estate Management with her husband Moshe Popack, and co-hosted a six-figure fundraiser for the governor last year.

— DeSantis doesn’t rule out using missiles against Mexico, by POLITICO’s Matt Berg


TRUMP = BIDEN — In a new ad unveiled Wednesday, DeSantis drew similarities between Trump and Biden’s spending patterns, accusing both men of “spending this country into oblivion.”

Playbook observation: DeSantis appears to be drawing similarities between Trump and Biden more and more — first with pandemic restrictions, then with age and now on spending. While it’s not an argument likely to be embraced by the MAGA base, it’s an interesting approach given that so many political commentators have been quick to draw comparisons between DeSantis and Trump.


THROWN OUT — FEC tosses complaint claiming Gaetz used campaign funds for trafficking probe defense, by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout: Gaetz’s campaign paid nearly $200,000 in legal fees between November 2020 and October 2021, including payments to an attorney who primarily handles criminal cases. But Federal Election Commission records recently released show that the commission voted 5-0 last month to toss the complaint filed against Gaetz by Cris Dosev, who has run twice against Gaetz in the GOP primary for the northwest Florida congressional seat.

BIPARTISAN — “Gaetz can count on some progressives' support as he threatens to force a vote on ousting Kevin McCarthy,” by Insider’s Bryan Metzger: "I mean, if that vote comes up, I'll vote to vacate," said Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.). "I think Kevin McCarthy is a horrible speaker."

CALENDAR — Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) is hosting a panel next week on African American history called “Stay Woke Africans in America: Preserve Our History.” It’ll take place Sept. 22 at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference and will be moderated by former CNN journalist Don Lemon.

“The discussion comes in light of recent attacks on American history in Florida and across the nation, reigniting an awareness within the Black community about the glaring gaps in the teaching of African American history in public schools,” the advisory says.

TIME 100 NEXT — Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) landed on the list of top young, influential leaders.


MAR-A-LAGO DOCS CASE — “Judge sets limits on Trump discussing classified info in Mar-a-Lago documents case,” by CNBC’s Dan Mangan: The protective order by Judge Aileen Cannon instructing Trump and his lawyers to discuss that information in a secured location endorsed limitations sought by prosecutors from the office of special counsel Jack Smith over the objections of Trump.


Florida native Emily Williams is digital director for Florida Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s U.S. Senate campaign. Williams is a Precision Strategies, Jaime Harrison and Everytown alum.


CHROME DOME — “Rick Scott marks ‘Bald is Beautiful Day’ by welcoming Mike Lee into the club,” by The Hill’s Judy Kurtz: “It was a hard journey for Mike, took him a long time. He sacrificed a lot when he got the haircut. But he’s in it,” Scott said.

— “Environmental groups sue US over sluggish pace in listing the rare ghost orchid as endangered,” by the Associated Press’ Curt Anderson

BIRTHDAYS: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis... Apopka Mayor and former legislator Bryan Nelson


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New immigration decisions create uncertainty in Florida


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