Florida joins Republican-led states in lawsuit over child immigrant resettlement program
Image via Scott Powers.

Ashley Moody and Ron DeSantis in Orlando
Florida joined Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas in challenging the program.

Florida has joined the lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s administration for reinstating a program that creates an opportunity for Central American children and some family members to possibly resettle in the United States.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody have been among the Republican leaders in Florida and nationwide who are criticizing the federal government for its immigration practices, attributing increased crime and drug trafficking to those policies. The latest immigration showdown is an attempt to halt the federal Central America Minors (CAM) Program, which allows children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — as well as certain family members — to apply for refugee status and possibly resettle in the United States.

Florida joined Texas and other Republican-led states in the lawsuit.

“The Biden administration continues to disregard the laws of this country and allow massive numbers of illegal aliens across the border, without regard to possible criminal backgrounds or connections to illicit activity,” DeSantis said. “Not only are these illegal aliens allowed free reign in this country, but the administration also pushes the burden and costs onto the states and ignores the consequences of its policies. I’m glad that Attorney General Moody is helping to block the reckless immigration policies of the Biden administration.”

Moody traveled to Texas Thursday to visit the southern border, where she met with law enforcement officers and fellow attorneys general. And on Friday morning, she appeared on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” where she criticized Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for creating what she argued is effectively a criminal human smuggling organization.

“After seeing the chaos in person, it is even more clear to me now that Biden and Mayorkas are building their own illegal organization to transport illegal immigrants into and around our country — thumbing their noses at federal laws. I will not only work aggressively to stop these illegal acts, but I will continue to inform Floridians about what their federal government is actually doing, and the dangers associated with those decisions.”

Only certain parents or legal guardians who are lawfully in the United States may request to bring their children to the nation. The children must be 20 or younger, be unmarried, and be a resident of El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras. Some parents who aren’t yet in the country may be eligible to come with a child who is accepted in the program. Children of a qualifying child or of an included parent may also come to the United States.

The DeSantis administration called the CAM Program a “brazen abuse” of federal parole authority, allowing in people even if they don’t qualify for asylum or refugee status. The power is supposed to be reserved for urgent humanitarian reasons, they continue.

Immigrants who are in Florida illegally cost Floridians millions of dollars every year, according to the lawsuit. Unlawfully present immigrants cost the state prison system $100 million per year, it adds. Education, services and medical treatment also impact the state.

An immigrant in the country illegally was accused of murder last year, reigniting the immigration debate in Florida. In December, DeSantis proposed legislation to crack down on illegal immigration (SB 1808/HB 1355), which passed from its first committee by a party-line vote on Monday.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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