Donald Trump – Florida Politics

Bill Nelson, others to tour Homestead migrant facility Saturday

After being denied access Tuesday to a Homestead facility housing migrant children, Sen. Bill Nelson says he is being granted a tour of the facility by Health and Human Services (HHS) officials. That tour will take place Saturday.

Nelson arrived at the center earlier in the week with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and incoming Florida House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee.

The group had planned to speak with migrant children being held there. Around 1,000 children in total are housed at that facility, 94 of which were separated from their families under a recently-amended policy by President Donald Trump.

Nelson and Wasserman Schultz say they were told they would be able to tour the facility before arriving, but were barred by HHS officials on the scene. HHS requires a two-week notice before opening the facilities for visitation.

According to an email highlighted by the Tampa Bay Times’ Alex Leary, HHS has decided to temporarily waive that two-week requirement to allow some members of Congress to view the migrant centers and speak to children located there.

Nelson announced on Twitter he would return to the Homestead facility Saturday.

Leary also reports Nelson will be joined by U.S. Reps. Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson.

In his announcement, Nelson noted Trump’s decision to rescind his administration’s child separation policy does not explicitly ensure that children already separated from parents would be returned.

However, in a cabinet meeting earlier today, the president said he would move to bring those families back together.

“I’m directing HHS, DHS, and DOJ to work together to keep illegal immigrant families together during the immigration process and to reunite these previously separated groups,” he said.

In addition to the visit by Florida lawmakers, Democratic candidates for governor also have a march planned for Saturday at the same facility.

Nelson plans to arrive at the Homestead migrant center at 1 p.m.

Turkey re-ups Ballard Partners lobbying contract

Ballard Partners added a load of lobbying clients after an expansion to Washington D.C. last year; one of the biggest was pleased enough to ink another contract with the firm.

In mid-2017, the Turkish government inked a $1.5 million deal with the firm aimed at improving US-Turkey relations and promoting the country’s public image by highlighting its role as an energy hub and its efforts fighting terrorism.

Though the bonds between Ankara and Washington hit a speed bump due to tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, the transcontinental state is happy enough with progress in other venues to stay the course with Ballard.

The new contract is a little lighter, however, measuring in at $750,000 a year.

Brian Ballard chaired the Trump Victory organization in Florida during the 2016 presidential campaign. After Trump’s election, Ballard Partners expanded its operations to Washington, picking up more than $3.5 million in deals with major Capitol Hill clients, including AmazonSprint and Uber.

Ballard’s reputation as one of the few lobbyists close Trump helped the firm land contracts with several nations looking for help understanding and communicating with the new administration, including Turkey as well as the Dominican Republic, Qatar and the Maldives.

The renewed contract with the Turkish government comes a week after Ballard Partners added two new clients to its Washington roster — Deerfield Beach-based health technology company Sentry Data Systems and Egyptian car importer ARTOC Auto.

Bill Nelson goes after Rick Scott as ‘Oil Slick Rick’ in digital ad

Earlier in the week, the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Gov. Rick Scott launched a new TV commercial accusing Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of going negative, even though Nelson hadn’t actually done that, yet.

Now he has.

Nelson is releasing a one-minute digital ad Thursday called “Oil Slick,” dubbing the governor “Oil Slick Rick” while accusing him of having supported offshore drilling around Florida until he only recently changed his mind as a political stunt as he prepared to run for the Senate.

This is only Nelson’s second digital ad of his re-election campaign and he has yet to launch a television commercial, battling against Scott who has put up a half-dozen statewide television commercials, including the one accusing Nelson of having gone negative.

Rick Scott‘s campaign responded by disputing Nelson’s claims that he sponsored the moratorium on off-shore drilling, or that he was even intimately familiar with it while it was moving. Scott’s campaign Press Secretary Lauren Schenone charged that Nelson distorted the facts, and that it was Scott who got drilling off the table [a status that Nelson’s people have insisted remains uncertain.]

The Nelson campaign did not provide any details about the ad buy behind the video.

Nelson’s first ad was almost entirely biographical, making no mention of Scott.

The new one stars Scott.

In addition to the digital ad, Nelson’s campaign also launched some other internet properties including “Scott Is Not For Florida” accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that feature a logo that mimics Scott’s official U.S. Senate election campaign logo.

In Nelson’s new digital ad, there is almost no audio, other than plucky background music that plays as video provides shots of Scott, offshore drilling, animation of an oil spill, and the Deep Water Horizon/BP disaster of 2010. Meanwhile, text declares:

“Oil companies have Florida in their sights. Scott supported offshore drilling. Even after the BP Oil Spill.”

Then a brief audio-video clip, the only one in the spot, from an undated event, shows Scott saying, “Offshore drilling is an option.”

Return to plucky music. “Now in this election year, ‘Oil Slick’ Rick pretended to be a hero,” the text picks up. “But the media uncovered the real story. It was a political stunt.”

The ad cuts to a photograph of Scott mugging with President Donald Trump, heads together, smiling, and then to a quote from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “If you think President Trump and Gov. Scott are playing election-year politics with drilling, you’re right.”

The text then states: “Bill Nelson actually wrote the bipartisan law that makes it illegal to drill off of Florida’s coast,” and then goes back to the Sun Sentinel’s statement, “On offshore drilling, only Bill Nelson has earned Floridians’ trust.”

Finally, comes the tagline that might emerge as the slogan for Nelson’s re-election campaign — “Bill Nelson puts Florida first, always has, always will.”

“The only way for Bill Nelson to present himself as a lifelong advocate against offshore oil drilling is to distort the facts, and the fact is that Bill Nelson not only didn’t write the bill that created the moratorium, he was the only Gulf Coast senator to not co-sponsor it,” Schenone responded in a written statement. “It’s also a fact that when Obama needed the support, it was Bill Nelson who was willing to put partisan politics first and change his position to support oil drilling closer to Florida’s shores. Now, because of Gov. Scott’s efforts, offshore drilling is off the table, but Bill Nelson refuses to celebrate, or even accept, this reality. While Bill Nelson continues to grandstand and distract from the truth, Gov. Scott will stay focused on securing real solutions to protect our environment.”

Critics take aim at Medicaid change

A move by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration to eliminate a long-standing policy that gives poor, disabled and elderly Floridians 90 days to qualify for the Medicaid program isn’t getting support from people who care for patients or from patients’ family members.

More than 100 comments from people such as physicians, nursing-home and hospital executives and family members were sent to the federal government opposing the proposed change, which the Scott administration submitted for approval in April.

If the change is approved by President Donald Trump’s administration, the state would save an estimated $98 million in Medicaid spending this year. The change would eliminate a three-month window where Medicaid pays health care bills while people apply for the program.

Florida isn’t alone in moving ahead with eliminating the policy, but unlike other states that have made similar decisions, Florida has not expanded Medicaid eligibility to include able-bodied working adults.

American Academy of Family Physicians board Chairman John Megis said in his written comments on the proposal that Medicaid reimburses physicians less than Medicare or commercial health insurance plans and that eliminating the 90-day window could be a step too far.

“Should it be eliminated, it would pose more uncertainty to our members, especially those in rural or underserved areas, who are already operating on thin margins,” Megis wrote. “We fear the elimination of retroactive coverage would further dissuade physicians from treating Medicaid populations, further entrenching the health disparities facing the state, and leave others unable to offer services to vulnerable Medicaid populations altogether.”

One caregiver, whose name wasn’t published on the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website, shared a story about the caregiver’s mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease and lives in an assisted living facility.

While the family is tapping into savings to pay for the facility, the caregiver worries that the mother may require nursing home care and would then need to enroll in Medicaid. The caregiver said the current policy allows families to focus on choosing the right nursing home instead of worrying about filling out applications.

“I know the state claims their costs will be ‘more predictable’ if this amendment is approved, but medical emergencies are NOT PREDICTABLE. Many ordinary people like myself and my family are dealing with serious illnesses and trying to do the best we can,” the caregiver’s comment said. “If the leaders of our state think saving money is more important than HUMAN LIVES I pray to God for the future of our country.”

If the change is approved by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Florida residents would have to apply for the Medicaid program the same month they get sick. That means, for example, if a patient was admitted to a hospital on April 10, the hospital — working with the patient — would have 20 days to gather information needed to properly fill out the Medicaid application.

However, a patient admitted to the hospital on April 29 would have just one day to gather what is needed to submit the application.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, commonly known as CMS, has given Iowa and Kentucky the go-ahead to eliminate retroactive eligibility, but those states expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to able-bodied adults.

Florida has not. As a result, Medicaid is limited to people such as pregnant women, children, seniors and people with disabilities. Exempting pregnant women and children from the proposal means that the majority of the 39,000 people impacted by the change would be seniors and people with disabilities.

In his comments, Florida Health Care Association Executive Director Emmett Reed said the state should maintain the 90-day window. If the change is approved, though, people should be given 30 days after first being admitted to nursing homes to apply for the program, Reed said. He also predicted in his comments that if the change is approved, there “will be an increase in incomplete Medicaid applications submitted to (the state) and a decrease in the timely processing of Medicaid applications.”

Agency for Health Care Administration spokeswoman Mallory McManus dismissed the criticisms and said the policy change was “about paperwork, not patient care.” She said the proposal focused on quick enrollment into the Medicaid program.

“By enrolling individuals quickly, you ensure better-coordinated fully integrated care, as well as access to preventative services,” McManus said.

But Anne Swerlick, a health care attorney with the Florida Policy Institute, noted that most low-income adults in Florida are prevented from accessing coverage when they are healthy, or even when they suffer from serious chronic conditions, so there isn’t an opportunity to coordinate care and provide preventive services.

“It’s a cruel irony that Florida’s justifications for cutting (retroactive Medicaid eligibility) are the best arguments for why Florida needs to expand its Medicaid program,” Swerlick said.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Donald Trump: New executive order will end child separation policy

President Donald Trump appears to give in to widespread criticism over his administration’s policy of separating thousands of migrant children from their families.

Trump said Wednesday he will sign an executive order ending the controversial policy. “We are going to sign an executive order in a little while to keep families together, but we have to maintain toughness,” he said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“These images affect everybody.”

An order was drafted earlier in the day by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that would keep families together when detained at the border for entering the country illegally. That’s despite Nielsen previously saying there was no “policy of separating families at the border.”

In fact, members of the Trump administration have repeatedly denied instituting the new policy. That’s in contrast to other administration officials who have admitted creating the policy and argued it would help deter future illegal immigration.

The practice has earned scathing rebukes from members of both parties.

That tension was highlighted during a visit by Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to a Homestead facility housing migrant children. Nelson said at least 94 children at that facility had been separated from their parents. He added today that 174 children in total are being housed in Florida facilities after being split from their parents.

Yesterday’s visit by Nelson and Wasserman Schultz prompted Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates to plan a joint march in Homestead to protest the practice.

President Trump also repeatedly refused responsibility for the policy, instead choosing to blame Democrats. Now, it appears Trump is ready to do what many argued he could do all along: end the policy unilaterally.

South Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen recognized this in a scathing statement following Trump’s announcement of the new EO. According to Scott Wong, a writer at the Hill, Ros-Lehtinen called Trump an “arsonist” who is now playing “fireman” by approving this new change.

“Anything to boost his fragile ego,” she added.

Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates planning to march together in Homestead

Four and potentially all five of Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates could wind up marching arm-in-arm – at least metaphorically – in Homestead this weekend at a rally protesting President Donald Trump‘s policy to separate immigrant children from their families.

In quick order Wednesday morning, in a line of falling campaign dominoes, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum announced he would be clearing his schedule to go to Homestead for the rally, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham declared on Twitter they should march together, and businessman Chris King declared that he couldn’t agree more.

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine also has decided to march in Homestead the Saturday, according to his campaign.

Businessman Jeff Greene, in an airplane headed for Tallahassee late Wednesday morning, hadn’t weighed in yet, but his staff indicated his potential support.

“This Saturday we have decided to cancel our other events to march in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in South Florida. This moral crisis demands our leaders stand up to this outrage in unequivocal terms, and we will not turn away from what the Trump Administration is doing to these families,” Gillum announced in a press release Wednesday morning.

“@MayorLevine, @AndrewGillum, @ChrisKingFL and @JeffGreeneFL, we should do this together. This issue is bigger than any of our individual campaigns and we can send a louder message to @realDonaldTrump by standing together to resist it,” Graham tweeted.

“Couldn’t agree more. I’ll be there,” King tweeted back.

They’re planning to attend the “March to Keep Families Together” being organized in part by the ACLU Florida for 4 p.m. Saturday. It’s part of a nationwide set of rallies and marches against Trump’s policy of separating families caught crossing the border and sending the children by themselves to detention centers.

The march will focus on the federal Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, a detention center with a reported 1,000 beds, where at least 94 children stripped from their parents at the border are being held. It’s the same place where U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, both Democrats, were refused entry Tuesday when they sought to check on the welfare of the children inside.

All five Democratic gubernatorial candidates have issued strong condemnations of the practice, which evolved out of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance policy” on illegal immigration launched in April, resulting in reports of more than 2,000 children being stripped from their parents and sent to live in mass detention centers while the government prosecutes their parents for deportation. Many Republicans including Gov. Rick Scott also have condemned the practice. With the Republican gubernatorial candidates, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has given mixed messages on his position, while U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis has said families should be kept together.

For the Democrats, heading to Homestead means, as Gillum pointed out in his announcement, a necessity to clear schedules. That includes for at least a couple of them canceling appearances at the St. Petersburg Pride event on Saturday.

How close the Democrats will march, together or just within eyesight of one another, remains to be seen.

“I think we would like to march arm and arm with them,” King’s spokesman Avery Jaffe said. “I think that would be a great visual. But we’ll be down there.”

Donald Trump immigration furor underscored in Florida

Amid escalating bipartisan demands for President Donald Trump to stop separating undocumented immigrant children from their families at the southern U.S. border, two high-ranking Florida Democrats were denied access Tuesday to a federal detention facility in Homestead housing an estimated 1,000 minors.

The Trump administration family-separation policy — which has resulted in more than 2,000 children being warehoused throughout the country during a six-week period — has drawn harsh rebukes from Democrats, immigration advocates and a growing chorus of Republicans, including the two men vying to replace Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis have spent months hitching themselves to Trump’s coattails.

But, as Scott did this week, the gubernatorial hopefuls adopted softer stances to the hard line immigration policy, which spawned photos of tearful toddlers and audio recordings of children screaming for their mamas and papis.

“It’s important that we enforce our laws in a humane way and families should be kept together. With secure borders, you would have less of this issue. Washington needs to work with President Trump to find a solution,” Putnam said in a statement issued by his campaign Tuesday.

When asked about the issue Monday during a campaign appearance in Bradenton, DeSantis, who’s carved out a reputation as an immigration hawk and claims to have Trump’s endorsement, said he would “keep the family together and repatriate them back as a family unit.”

Scott, who is trying to oust veteran U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and who is an ally of Trump, also distanced himself from the policy — saying he does “not favor separating families” — while at the same time mirroring the president’s finger-pointing at Congress for the situation.

“What the country is witnessing right now is the byproduct of the many years of bipartisan inaction and failure from our federal government,’’ Scott said in a statement distributed by his Senate campaign. “They have failed to secure our borders, which has resulted in this chaos. Let me be clear — I do not favor separating families. Washington is to blame for this by being all talk and no action, and the solution is to secure the border.”

But while four other governors — including Republicans from Maryland and Massachusetts — are refusing to lend aid to the federal border defense, Scott does not plan to recall three Florida National Guard troops dispatched to support the effort.

Tuesday evening, Scott sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, seeking information about the children reportedly housed at the Homestead facility.

Scott asked Azar to notify federal, state and local authorities immediately about any current or future unaccompanied minors, “or children who were separated from their families under President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy toward illegal entry into the United States” coming to or already in Florida. The governor also sought details about health screenings, education and social services provided to the children.

The opposition from Scott, Putnam and DeSantis to the policy — which Trump administration officials claim is not a policy — comes amid competitive campaigns in a state with a fast-growing number of Hispanics, a voting bloc both Republicans and Democrats consider critical to November victories.

Nelson on Tuesday captured national attention after he and Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz were barred from entering a privately run federal detention facility in Homestead. Nelson said that, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 94 of the approximately 1,000 children housed in the facility were taken from their families at the border.

Nelson and Wasserman Schultz, accompanied by incoming state House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee of Miami, told reporters that the contractor running the facility approved their visit.

But Nelson said that, while en route to the detention center Tuesday morning, he was contacted by Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, who told him the facility was off-limits.

“This is not a good day for our country, where a U.S. senator and a U.S. congresswoman have been turned away from a federal facility because the Trump administration does not want us to check on the welfare and the care of the children inside, children who have been taken from their moms and dads,” an irate Nelson told reporters outside the center.

The three Democrats accused Trump and his administration of a cover-up.

“They are obviously hiding something,” Nelson said. “This is absolutely ridiculous. I am ashamed of this administration, that they are doing this.”

The tension outside the Homestead facility, surrounded by a chain-link fence, reflected the increasingly heated rhetoric in Florida and throughout the nation as Trump and his supporters dig in on the issue while more and more Republicans — especially those who are Hispanic or running in swing districts — criticize the family separation process.

“It depends on how it plays out, but it’s certainly not a great general-election issue, for sure,” Brian Ballard, a Republican lobbyist and fundraiser who has close ties to Trump and Scott, told The News Service of Florida in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The situation could provide an opportunity for Republican candidates to define themselves, Ballard said.

“I think it allows folks like Gov. Scott and the gubernatorial candidates to show where they can differ but still be strong Trump supporters. I don’t think people transfer 100 percent of one person to another. Donald Trump’s his own man. There are very few people who agree with Donald Trump on every issue. I think you have to pick your shots,” Ballard said.

But the anger outside the Miami-Dade County facility portrayed a more visceral reaction to the policy state Sen. Rene Garcia, a Hialeah Republican, called “unethical and shameful, to say the least.”

Wasserman Schultz, a former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee who has called on U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign, said the Democratic lawmakers wanted to ensure that the children were being cared for.

“Are they abusing these kids? Are they sleeping on the floor? Are they in cages? This is an absolute outrage,” she said.

But, as dramatic as the images of sobbing children pleading to be reunited with their parents may be, Ballard believes the Trump administration’s handling of the policy won’t harm the GOP in the fall.

“I don’t think it’s as problematic for Republicans, who can handle issue by issue. You agree with the president on some things, you disagree with him. You don’t have to go over the top. You don’t have to be crazy in how you criticize him. You do it in a respectful way,” he said, adding that Trump is “making a compelling case” for the need to separate undocumented children from the undocumented immigrant adults who are accompanying them at the border.

“I think it will work out. I don’t think it’s a defining issue in the general election,” Ballard said.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Donald Trump Jr. cancels fundraiser with George P. Bush

Former Gov. Jeb Bush’s statement against the Trump administration policy splitting up undocumented immigrant families crossing the U.S. border may have caused a rift between his son, George P. Bush, and Donald Trump Jr.

As reported by Axios, sources close to Trump Jr. say he plans to pull out of a New York City fundraiser he was set to headline for George P. next week. Bush is running for re-election as Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, an office he’s held since 2015.

The New York GOP has since deleted a web page listing for the June 25 fundraiser.

Don Jr.’s decision comes one day after Jeb Bush called on President Donald Trump to end the “heartless” migrant family separation policy that has resulted in at least two thousand children being separated from their parents in the last six weeks.

Those close to Don Jr. say the tweet was his “final straw” when it comes to the Bush family.

He had previously taken umbrage with a CNBC appearance by Jeb where the former governor criticized they way President Trump attacked his rivals in order to “make himself look strong.”

The sources that said Don Jr. is pulling out of the fundraiser added that the move “isn’t personal,” and that Don Jr. considers his relationship with George P. Bush “collateral damage.”

Bill Nelson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz denied entry to Homestead facility housing migrant kids

Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz say they were denied access Tuesday to a Homestead facility housing around 1,000 migrant children, despite earlier assurances they would be allowed entry.

“Heading to Homestead, Florida tomorrow to check on the roughly 1,000 migrant children reportedly being held there,” Nelson wrote yesterday on Twitter. He also criticized President Donald Trump‘s policy of separating some migrant children from their families, calling the practice “inhumane.”

That visit was stifled when U.S. Health and Human Services barred Nelson and Wasserman Schultz from entering the facility. The pair says they were intent on checking on the welfare of the children. But HHS requires a two-week notice before visitation, according to Nelson’s account of his conversation with officials.

“They are obviously hiding something, and we are going to get to the bottom of this,” Nelson added.

Nelson later stated that HHS confirmed 94 of the children held in Hialeah were separated from their families.

The attempted visit comes amid outcry over the administration’s new policy, which has resulted in nearly two thousand children being taken into separate custody from April 19 to May 31.

Trump has falsely blamed Democrats for the issue. He ratcheted up the rhetoric with a statement earlier today, arguing Democrats want to allow illegal immigrants “to pour into and infest” the country, “no matter how bad they are.”

Though Congress can pass a law reforming the country’s immigration policy, several of Trump’s own administration members have admitted to initiating the policy as a way to deter people from entering the country illegally. And the president has full authority to make a change.

The Trump administration’s actions have resulted in harsh criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. “These are kids who were taken from their moms and dads,” said Nelson in Homestead earlier today. “They are scared. And this administration should be ashamed of itself.”

Wasserman Schultz echoed those sentiments, arguing the pair should not have been denied entry to the Homestead facility. “The American people deserve to see the cruel way the Trump Administration is treating children.”

Wasserman Schultz says she also knows of two more detention centers in Miami-Dade County housing migrant children. They are reportedly located in Miami Gardens and Cutler Bay.

And earlier today, CD 27 candidate Matt Haggman released a new campaign ad, arguing for the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But criticism is coming from the right as well, including from Republican Florida legislators.

Today, state Sen. Rene Garcia added his name to that list, saying, “I support securing our borders but I cannot support the actions of this admin. on separating children from their parents. It is heartless and inhumane the way children are being separated. This debate is no longer about a wall but who we are as a people. We’re much better than this!”

And Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who Haggman is running to replace, bashed Trump’s use of the word “infest” when referring to illegal immigration. “The real infestation is only one of your baseless rhetoric,” she said of Trump.

Whether the widespread outcry will push the president to reverse course before new legislation remains to be seen. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah is attempting to get federal legislators to sign a letter urging Trump to do just that.

Gwen Graham seeks Rick Scott’s records on Florida’s federal family separation facilities

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham is going after state public records on what Gov. Rick Scott‘s office might have known about the immigrant child detention facility in Homestead and “any other facilities in the state.”

Her public records request submitted Tuesday declares that such detention facilities have created “a moral crisis.” Graham is demanding to know what Scott’s office knows about transfers of unaccompanied children to Homestead and when he and his office knew it.

In a news release, Graham also called for Scott to take a stand against the federal policy: challenging President Donald Trump in court and dispatching the state’s legal and child welfare advocates to assist the children in detention.

She charged that the children separated from their parents and sent to the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children are “being held hostage by Trump for political purposes.

It a “sick game,” Graham added.

“Seeing photos of these children, listening to their screams, I think of my own children and how hard I would fight if anyone tried to separate us,” Graham stated in a news release. “Floridians deserve to know what Rick Scott knows about the Trump administration using our state in their political plot to separate families and what he’s doing to assist or stop Trump from bringing children to our state.”

Graham is requesting all records between the state of Florida and the federal government concerning the child detention facility in Homestead as well as any others in the state.

She’s seeking records relating to the federal policy begun in April of prosecuting almost all undocumented immigrants, a process that leads to the parents essentially being jailed while the children are sent off alone to live in harsh detention centers without their parents. The resulting stories, pictures, and videos of terrified and anguished children have horrified much of the world, resulting in widespread outrage and finger-pointing. Yet the process continues.

Scott issued a statement saying he does not favor the policy, but also pointing fingers and not calling for any immediate action to stop it.

Graham and almost all the Democrats have called for immediate actions to stop the policy. Her public records request also is a response to reports that the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children may be holding up to 1,000 children mostly brought from the southwest border under this policy. She’s also referencing unconfirmed reports that there may be other such facilities either in Florida or in the works for Florida.

Graham called on Scott to stop President Donald Trump‘s administration from using Florida in their plans to separate families and to immediately take action to assist the children reportedly being transported to Florida from the border.

“Floridians need more than just words — they need action. Governor Rick Scott should immediately challenge Donald Trump in court to stop him from using Florida as a pawn in this sick game of separating families and detaining children,” Graham stated in the news release. “If Scott won’t stand up to Trump, I will. Unless the Trump administration reverses this cruel and inhuman practice, one of my first acts on my first day as governor will be to take Trump to court.”

In addition to urging Scott to take legal action, Graham urged other actions:

— Immediately asking Attorney General Pam Bondi and his Scott’s general counsel to coordinate with all state attorneys, law firms engaged by the state of Florida, legal aid organizations, and Guardian Ad Litem programs to obtain volunteer advocates for each of the children transported to Florida.

— Immediately order the Florida Department of Children and Families, and all of its community contractors, to coordinate with the federal government in providing the best possible temporary living conditions for the kids transported to Florida and in quickly reuniting them with their families.

“These children are so strong — but we can’t expect them to carry this pain alone. They need someone to be their voice in court proceedings. They need someone to ensure they’re being cared for while separated from their families,” Graham added. “We know Trump won’t do it — so now is the time for our state’s leaders to step up and show compassion. These are children. Regardless of politics, we each have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to help them.”

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