Things That Matter

Florida Is Moving To Deputize Prison Guards As ICE Agents In A Move That Will Terrorize The Community

A federal advisory board in Florida has approved a measure to deputize state correctional offers as federal immigration agents. The state is now waiting on the “Memorandum of Agreement” from ICE to begin initiating the program. Republican Florida officials are enthusiastic about the new approach that will allow prison guards to profile inmates booked into prison to determine if they are undocumented immigrants. 

“(Corrections) Secretary Mark Inch has made great progress in his collaborative relationship with ICE and we are moving forward with this program,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement.

DeSantis has been cracking down on immigration and has been pushing for the program since April. Backed by Donald Trump, DeSantis is more than happy to imitate the administration’s rigid policies. 

DeSantis believes the program will be good for public safety.

“I believe public safety is important to maintain the best quality of life in our communities which is why I am extremely pleased that the Legislature gave me a sanctuary city bill I signed into law,” DeSantis said.

Florida has a sanctuary-city prohibition where law enforcement agencies are required to hold undocumented immigrants in custody for up to 48 hours if there is a detainer request from a federal agency. 

Five correctional officers will be trained by federal immigration authorities in the program. Democrats and immigrants rights groups believe the program will hurt immigrant communities not benefit public safety. 

“Turning our state employees into ICE agents at Florida taxpayer expense will not make our state safer,” said Casey Bruce-White, director of communications for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

Opponents believe the sanctuary-city ban will lead to racial profiling.

“The ACLU and other opponents argue, in part, that policies such as the sanctuary-city ban will force local governments to spend resources to do the job of federal immigration agents. Also, they say the policies could lead to racial profiling across the state,” according to the Miami Herald. 

Florida isn’t alone in its plan to deputize prison guards, the approval would make it the fourth state to implement such a program in state-run prisons. Arizona, Massachusetts, and Georgia are the three others with similar ICE contracts. State taxpayer money will be used to pay for the program as Florida will be responsible for covering the tab on all travel, housing, and per diem costs. 

Meanwhile, 14 county jails also work with ICE. The decision to use local law enforcement as ICE operatives has received the ire of South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard. 

“As soon as the community perceives the local police as agents of ICE, they stop talking to the local police, and that makes everybody less safe,” he told the Miami Herald. “Now, there will be a whole segment of our community unwilling to report crimes. It’s already the case in a lot of immigrant communities, and this makes it worse.”

Florida immigrants face soaring arrest rates.  

A new polarizing law implemented by DeSantis allows 18-year-olds to work as correctional officers as a way to correct the increasingly high turnover rate. In September, the Florida Department of Corrections officials asked lawmakers for roughly $90 million to address the staffing issue, calling the issue “exceptionally high turnover rates.” 

“Staffing at the department has reached critically low level, and many of the staff currently employed are extremely inexperienced,” agency officials wrote in the budget request. 

However, the Miami Herald noted that Florida sheriff’s offices were eager to participate in working with federal immigration agencies, perhaps the new program will have the same allure to interested parties. 

According to the Tampa Bay Times, since Trump launched his strict immigration policies, the detention of noncriminals has soared due to tens of thousands of immigrants with no convictions being arrested. Undocumented immigrants in Florida with no convictions are seven times higher to be arrested than under the Obama administration, the highest surge in the U.S. 

The Trump administration arrested 53,441 immigrants without records in a single year, three times the rate of the Obama administration, which focused on undocumented immigrants who committed serious crimes. 

In Florida, one in every five residents is an immigrant with roughly 4.1 million foreign-born individuals making up 20 percent of the population. Florida immigration lawyers believe racial profiling has run rampant in the state. Federal law allows immigration agencies to have jurisdiction within 100 miles of the border, and within that jurisdiction, they can arrest anyone without a warrant. Because Florida is surrounded by water on three sides, the entire state is within the jurisdiction. 

“I do respect the need for immigration laws and that they do need to be enforced. I know a lot of good federal agents at (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). But they’re being misdirected,” said Chad Brandt, attorney at Orlando’s Brandt Immigration, told the Tampa Bay Times. “We’re wasting those precious resources on people who are building houses and cleaning hotel rooms.”

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Young Caregiver Arrested After Abuse Of 88-Year-Old Patient Caught On Camera

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Young Caregiver Arrested After Abuse Of 88-Year-Old Patient Caught On Camera

Pasco County Sheriff's Office / HCSOSheriff / YouTube

It was supposed to be a way of protecting the man from Covid.

Jonah Delgado was caught on video abusing an 88-year-old man he was hired to care for. According to reports, the man’s son hired Delgado after releasing him from an assisted living facility to spare him the risk of contracting Covid.

Delgado is facing charges of elderly abuse and battery after the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Department posted part of the video on YouTube. The video shows Delgado yelling and physically attacking the elderly man.

The video shows Delgado verbally and physically abusing the elderly patient.

“Delgado was trusted to take care of this man and to protect him,” a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office told The Tampa Bay Times. “He not only broke this trust but put this man in direct danger with his actions.”

The story and video are a cautionary tale of hiring caregivers. It is important to make sure the caregiver is properly vetted. The video is a reminder that some times it is helpful to have a hidden camera to make sure that your family members are getting the best care possible.

READ: Netflix Finally Gives Eight-Year-Old Gabriel Fernandez, Who Was Murdered And Tortured By His Own Mother, A Voice

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2020 Has Been A Tragic Year As A Record Number Of Migrants Die In ICE Custody

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2020 Has Been A Tragic Year As A Record Number Of Migrants Die In ICE Custody

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The news out of 2020 continues to devastate and it’s getting harder and harder to be shocked by just how horrible things are looking. However, the level of neglect inside ICE detention centers is so shocking that it’s leading to a record number of deaths. No matter what year it is, that is shocking.

It’s been 14 years, during the presidency of George Bush, since ICE detention centers have recorded the level of deaths that they’re recording this year. Despite warnings from health and immigration experts, ICE has largely refused to release immigrants from overcrowded cells despite an ongoing and out of control global health pandemic. This blatant disregard for life has had a huge impact as at least 18 people have died while in ICE detention centers so far this fiscal year.

ICE is responsible for the well-being of individuals in its custody and has broad discretion to release people for humanitarian reasons. The government should test everyone in its custody for COVID-19 and increase releases to prevent further deaths.

Three recent deaths in ICE detention centers bring 2020’s total to the second highest since 2006.

The death toll for immigrants in ICE custody reached the highest level since 2006 after three more people died this week.

Last week, it was reported that two men died while in ICE detention on August 5. One of the men who died last week was James Thomas Hill, a 72-year-old Canadian citizen who tested positive for COVID-19 about a month before his death. He was detained for three months at Farmville Detention Center in Virginia, despite being high-risk due to his age.

A 51-year-old man from Taiwan, Kuan Hui Lee, also died on August 5. Lee had been detained at Krome Detention Center in Florida for 7 months because he had overstayed a visa 16 years ago. While further details of his medical condition and death have not been reported, ICE has a long history of medical neglect of people in its custody with serious health conditions.

Then on August 11, Buzzfeed News reported that a 70-year-old Costa Rican man died in ICE custody at a Georgia Hospital on August 10, 2020, after testing positive for COVID-19. The man had been detained at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. According to AJC.com, the detainee suffered from diabetes and hypertension and had been hospitalized since August 4, 2020. ICE officials confirmed the death to BuzzFeed News, but have not released any additional details yet.

These tragedies increased the total deaths in ICE custody this fiscal year to 18, the highest number since 2006. Many—if not all—of the deaths that occur in ICE custody are avoidable.

“Many of these deaths were avoidable, unnecessary, and a direct result of the Trump administration’s refusal to take basic steps to protect the health and safety of detainees,” John Sandweg, a former ICE director during the Obama administration, told BuzzFeed News.

Many deaths have been attributed to Covid-19 but that’s not the complete picture.

Coronavirus has swept through ICE detention centers like wildfire and this has had a major impact on the health and welfare of detainees, the community, and even ICE employees.

So far this year, more than twice as many people have died in ICE custody over last year. And, unfortunately, there are at least 1,065 active Covid-19 cases in ICE detention centers, meaning more people are likely to get sick and die before the year ends.

The number of deaths is especially alarming considering the average number of people detained has been significantly lower this year than in recent years.

Farmville, an ICE detention center in Virgina, has the largest COVID-19 outbreak in immigration detention. As of August 6, over 97% of people held in this ICE facility had contracted COVID-19. The outbreak began as a super-spreader event caused by a transfer of 74 people from Florida and Arizona.

Advocates have consistently criticized ICE for failing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the people it detains.

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