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.”

No Fireworks, No Character Greets: Walt Disney World Prepares For Weekend Reopening

Entertainment

No Fireworks, No Character Greets: Walt Disney World Prepares For Weekend Reopening

Todd Anderson / Disney Parks via Getty Images

Walt Disney World was one of the first major closures brought on by COVID-19. After months of being closed, Wat Disney World announced that they will be partially reopening this weekend. Some Floridians are begging for the company to reconsider.

Walt Disney World is planning to reopen Saturday, July 11.

For Central Florida, the reopening of Walt Disney World after Universal Studios and SeaWorld is a welcomed influx of money. However, the park’s reopening is concerning Floridians who say that the state is not ready for such a reopening because of the current spike of COVID-19 cases in the Sunshine State.

A petition is pleading with Governor Ron DeSantis to postpone Walt Disney World’s reopening.

Credit: MoveOn.Org

Florida is among the states experiencing major spikes in COVID-19 cases. Recently, Florida reported more than 11,000 cases in a single day. The MoveOn.Org petition is calling for Gov. DeSantis to prioritize the health of residents over the opening of Disney World.

“This virus is not gone, unfortunately it’s only become worse in this state. Having our theme parks remain closed until cases are steadily decreasing would keep our guests, our employees and their families safe,” reads the petition. “Re-opening the theme parks is only putting our guests, employees, and families at higher risk for contracting COVID-19. While theme parks are a great way to relax and enjoy free time, it is a non-essential business; it is not fair to the people who work there to risk their lives, especially if they are at risk or have family members who are at risk. People are more important than making a profit.”

The theme park had a reopening preview to show the new normal while at the park.

Disney cast members were given a chance to explore the park and the new safety regulations in place to protect guests from COVID-19. For two days, “guests” were able to enjoy the full park for the first time since March when the theme park had to close because of COVID-19.

One union has filed a grievance with Walt Disney World ahead of the reopening.

The Actors’ Equity Association, which represents 750 Walt Disney World performers filed a grievance of retaliation. The union claims that their members are being punished by Disney after demanding tests for performers because they are not able to social distance on June 25. On June 26, Disney rescinded notice recalling the performers for work.

“Seven unions signed agreements to have their employees return to work, the Actors’ Equity rejected our safety protocols and have not made themselves available to continue negotiations, which is unfortunate,” a Disney spokeswoman said in a statement, according to WTVBAM. “We are exercising our right to open without Equity performers.”

Some people were quick to use Disney’s own creations to highlight the kind of reopening they expect.

Oof. So far, there has been no mention so signaling from Walt Disney World that the reopening will be postponed. Twitter is filled with people both excited and appalled that the happiest place on earth is reopening. Some people hope that Disney magic will be worth the risk.

READ: Demi Lovato Says She Left Disney Channel Because Of Her Eating Disorder

California, Harvard, MIT File Lawsuits To Challenge Government’s International Student Visa Announcement

Things That Matter

California, Harvard, MIT File Lawsuits To Challenge Government’s International Student Visa Announcement

Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Update: The State of California has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration against the announcement to deport international students. The Golden State filed after Harvard and MIT filed a lawsuit against the same announcement.

A judge has set the hearing date for the lawsuit filed by Harvard and MIT for Tuesday.

A federal judge in Boston will start hearing the arguments for an injunction against the recent announcement from the federal government Tuesday. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ordered that all international students will be stripped of student visas if their classes go completely online.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that he will be filing a lawsuit as well.

Attorney General Becerra argues that the decision is arbitrary and only causes undue harm to the people impacted by the decision. Part of the argument is the disregard of the health of those who would be forced to leave. The U.S. has the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world and the health risks of making thousands of international students suddenly leave the U.S.

Original: Just as students begin to contemplate what a fall semester might look like amid a global health pandemic, the Trump Administration has thrown another curveball at foreign university students. In a new rule issued by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, foreign students must return to their home country if their school will no longer be offering in-person learning, effectively forcing students to decide between full classrooms or international travel during a health crisis.

Once again, a cruel and poorly thought out, hastily announced rule change has thrown the lives of hundreds of thousands into doubt.

The Trump Administration announced new rules that require foreign students in the U.S. to be part of in-person classes.

Despite the global pandemic that is currently spiraling out of control in the U.S., the Trump Administration has issued new immigration guidelines that require foreign students to be enrolled in in-person learning. With this new rule, foreign students attending colleges that will operate entirely online this fall semester cannot remain in the country to do so.

The new comes just as college students begin to contemplate what their upcoming semester might look like and leaves them with an uncomfortable choice: attend in-person classes during a pandemic or take them online from another country. 

And for students enrolled in schools that have already announced plans to operate fully online, there is no choice. Under the new rules, the State Department will not issue them visas, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not allow them to enter the country. 

“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” read a release from ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program. “If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings

Already, several major universities have announced their intention to offer online learning because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

The strict new rule comes as higher education institutions are releasing information on their reopening plans. Schools are preparing to offer in-person instruction, online classes or a mix of both.

Eight percent of colleges are planning to operate online, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is tracking the reopening plans of more than 1,000 U.S. colleges. Sixty percent are planning for in-person instruction, and 23% are proposing a hybrid model, with a combined 8.5% undecided or considering a range of scenarios. 

Harvard University is one of the latest institutions to unveil its plans, announcing on Monday that all undergraduate and graduate course instruction for the academic year will be held online. Joining Harvard’s stance are other prestigious universities, including Princeton and the University of Southern California.

The U.S. has more than 1 million international students from around the world.

The U.S. is the number one destination for foreign students around the globe. More than a million foreign students are enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities, although that number has dipped slightly in recent years – largely attributed to the election of Donald Trump.

Mexico sends more than 15,000 students to the U.S. and Brazil is responsible for 16,000 foreign students in the country. By contrast, China and India send a combined almost 600,000 students to study in the U.S.

The new rule is expected to cost U.S. colleges and universities more than $4 billion.

Credit: Eva Hambach / Getty Images

Putting aside the very real health implications of forcing students to decide between attending in-person classes or traveling back to their home country amid a global pandemic, the U.S. economy is also going to take a hit.

International students in the U.S. contributed nearly $41 billion to the national economy in the 2018-2019 academic year. According to the Institute of International Education, the vast majority of funding for international students comes from overseas, rather than being funded by their host institutions, meaning that international students are big business for American universities. While students will still be required pay tuition fees, it’s possible that a hostile policy towards people seeking to study in the US could discourage prospective students.

If fewer international students are able to study in this country, it could spell trouble for the colleges that bank on them. Over the last decade, deep cuts in state funding for higher education have put pressure on schools to admit more students who need less aid, which is why so many schools have come to rely on the revenue from foreign students, who typically pay top dollar. 

“Those students are also, by and large, paying full tuition to study in this country,” Lakhani said. “That’s a really valuable tuition base.”