Delegation for 6.21.24: Dreamers — Middle East — campaigning — tornadoes — children

U.S. Capitol Washington, D.C.
President Joe Biden's recent immigration action sparks a partisan divide among the delegation.

Spouses and Dreamers

A series of immigration policies announced by President Joe Biden sparked strong reactions from both sides of the aisle in a state where tens of thousands will be impacted.

The President announced the Homeland Security Department will allow noncitizen spouses of American citizens to parole-in-place, meaning they can seek relief under U.S. law without risk of deportation.

The White House also said it intended to ease the visa process for graduates from U.S. colleges, including Dreamers. That references those undocumented individuals who came to the U.S. as children and benefited from former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action on Child Arrivals (DACA) policy, which went into effect while Biden served as Obama’s Vice President, 12 years prior to Biden’s recent announcement.

Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a Miramar Democrat who has advocated for Haitian and other Caribbean immigrants living in South Florida, cheered the development.

“I commend President Biden for announcing a plan to keep American families together and enable more young people to contribute to the economy,” she said.

“This initiative will help certain non-citizen spouses and children apply for lawful permanent residence status. They can do this without needing to leave the country, with the assurance that they are no longer at risk of deportation and separation from their loved ones. This action underscores the importance of family cohesion and economic vitality.”

At a Florida immigration event pushing for this action by the White House,, an immigration reform advocacy group, estimated that some 500,000 noncitizen spouses of Americans live in the country.

The group estimated that 21,000 DACA recipients live in Florida, 96% of whom have high school diplomas now and 48% of whom have attended at least some college. Moreover, about 32,000 U.S. citizens live with DACA recipients, including spouses and children born in the U.S.

Advocates have been pushing to protect DACA recipients ever since Obama put the policy into place.

“Today marks a historic milestone in improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers and American families with undocumented members,” reads a statement from praising the Biden announcement. “This is a tremendous step forward from President Biden, and a much-needed fulfillment of the promise to keep families together.”

But some Republicans in Florida’s delegation balked at policies they say effectively allow thousands to break the law in the state and nation.

“Joe Biden’s amnesty plan for 500,000 undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens is lawless and has no constitutional footing,“ said Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican.

”He is trying to virtue signal to the 10 million illegal aliens in this country that he will make sure they benefit from their unlawful activity at the expense of the rest of us. We have to DEPORT those people for the damage caused to our economy and our fellow Americans!”

But South Florida Democrats, who represent some of the largest immigrant communities in the nation, cheered the decision, while South Florida Republicans remain notably silent.

“President Biden’s historic immigration announcement will improve countless Dreamers’ and American mixed-status families’ lives, while bolstering our competitiveness against our rivals,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat and Co-Chair of Florida’s congressional delegation.

“When he took office, President Biden promised to fight for comprehensive immigration reform that would match border security and efficiency with pathways to permanent status for people who have maintained long-term residence in the U.S. and have contributed to our communities, culture, and economy. Promise kept. Today’s order will allow many Dreamers to access secure status and create a path to future citizenship.”

Middle East agitation

Sen. Marco Rubio had his focus this week on the Middle East. The Miami Republican filed legislation to bolster an alliance with Jordan, introducing the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act with Sen. Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Democrat.

“It’s imperative we continue to assist partners who support U.S. interests in the Middle East. Strengthening our defense operations in the Middle East will not only benefit the region but also our national security interests,” Rubio said.

Marco Rubio is warning about additional trouble in the Middle East.

The legislation calls on the U.S. to aid Jordan in stepping up military readiness with equipment and intelligence coordination.

He also sounded alarms on the ramifications of Hezbollah threatening war with Cyprus, an island nation considered part of Europe. That takes place as war continues between Israel and Hamas.

“I have warned about it for months. But now we are on the verge of a far more dangerous war in the Middle East,” he posted on social media, along with a series of news clips edited together by his Senate campaign.

The forceful comments on the Middle East come as Rubio apparently continues the vetting process as former President Donald Trump decides on a 2024 running mate.

Spanish outreach

As he seeks election to a second term, Sen. Rick Scott this week stepped up Hispanic outreach. The Naples Republican did so by announcing a coalition of Colombian leaders supporting his candidacy, which follows similar coalition announcements from Puerto Ricans, Ecuadorians and Cubans.

“I will continue to fight alongside these Colombian leaders to support Florida’s incredible Colombian community and fight for peace, stability, and freedom in Latin America because that is what is good for America,” Scott said.

Rick Scott is looking to court Latino voters as he seeks re-election. Image via YouTube.

He also put out a new Spanish-language ad themed to soccer and airing as part of the Copa América tournament now underway.

The ad is styled as a sports broadcast and compares his record, chiefly during his time as Governor, to that of lead Democratic opponent Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, an Ecuadorian American and native Spanish speaker who previously represented South Florida in Congress.

Through both endeavors, he has tried to paint Democrats as socialists similar to totalitarian regimes in the Western Hemisphere.

Tornado aid

Now that Biden has issued a disaster declaration covering much of the Florida Panhandle after tornadoes struck there last month, Rep. Neal Dunn has tried to connect residents with federal relief. People impacted by the storm can now apply for federal assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for help.

“I’m pleased to report that a Major Disaster Declaration has been issued in the wake of last month’s severe storms in North Florida,” the Panama City Republican said.

“This federal assistance will help expedite the recovery process and give Floridians the resources they need to rebuild. I’m grateful to the Administration for responding to my request for assistance and am pleased my office and I could deliver these results by urging the federal government to act.”

The tornadoes devastated Tallahassee and other areas in North Florida last month. Image via AP.

Individuals can learn more and apply directly to FEMA now for assistance.

Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a request for the disaster declaration on May 10, and Dunn sent a letter of support for that on May 24.

Child exploitation

Legislation championed by freshman Rep. Aaron Bean was just signed by Biden, and will soon create better sharing of data between law enforcement agencies investigating child porn.

The Fernandina Beach Republican ran a House version of the Missing Children’s Reauthorization Act (S 2051), renewing the existing Missing Children’s Assistance Act (MCAA) with critical updates and modernization requirements.

“As a father of three, I cannot imagine the pain of a missing or exploited child,” Bean said.

“Reauthorizing the MCAA gives hope and encouragement to loved ones during a time of immense heartbreak and uncertainty. Time is a critical factor in the search effort, and this bill will modernize the reporting system, so law enforcement can quickly find missing children and bring closure to countless families. Today is an important step in the fight to prevent child victimization, sexual exploitation, and abductions, and I am proud to see our bill signed into law.”

Bean is behind a push to help protect children.

Bean sponsored the bipartisan bill with Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat. The White House thanked both Congressmen in a statement and authorized $49.3 million a year through 2028 to be used on implementation.

The legislation specifically requires development of educational material on warning signs of sexual exploitation and extortion, supports background checks for public employees working with children, provides support services to families impacted by crimes and facilitates the total removal of exploitation material from the internet.

Shock poll

An internal poll from one of Rep. Cory Mills’ Democratic opponents suggests Florida’s 7th Congressional District could be competitive. But is it an outlier?

Democrat Jennifer Adams, the lead fundraiser within the CD 7 Democratic field, released a Public Policy Polling survey that shows her 5 points behind in a hypothetical matchup with Mills. More importantly, it finds support for Mills under 50% as he runs for a second term.

The poll shows Mills leading with 48% support to Adams’ 43% among registered voters in the district, with the remaining 9% of voters undecided. A polling memo does not disclose the margin of error in the survey.

Could Mills be in for a tight race this November?

That was with a Republican-leaning electorate, pollsters suggest, as Republican presidential candidate Trump leads Democratic President Biden 52% to 45% in the same poll within the district. In 2020, Trump won CD 7 with 52% to Biden’s nearly 47%, results similar to those polled by PPP.

Adams’ campaign presented the poll as evidence CD 7 remains a swing district even after Florida instituted a congressional map in 2022 that seemed to prompt Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy’s retirement from the House.

But the poll doesn’t necessarily show the path for Adams to upset Mills, as it didn’t poll either Primary.

PPP pollsters surveyed 594 voters from June 13 to 14. A release from the campaign said voters were given short biographies of Adams and Mills of similar length, though the bios were not immediately provided by the campaign.

Heated exchange

A controversial Florida law prohibiting local heat requirements on employers has one member of the delegation asking the federal government to intervene.

Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, sent a letter to acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Assistant Secretary Douglas Parker calling for federal workplace protections to be implemented.

“The devastating health and economic consequences of the climate crisis continue to grow, and the Tampa Bay region is particularly at risk for extreme heat and worsening air quality on hot, humid days,” Castor wrote.

“For years, heat has been the leading cause of weather-related fatalities in the United States. It is important to note that workers, including farmworkers, farmers, firefighters and construction workers, are disproportionately impacted by extreme heat.”

Workers across the state are already dealing with rising temperatures. Stock image via Adobe.

DeSantis signed the state legislation in April, and it goes into effect in July.

Castor suggested urgency in enforcement of protections, noting Tampa in 2023 endured its hottest July on record, as well as an August heat wave. She said there’s no reason to expect this Summer to be any cooler.

“As temperatures continue to break records and workers suffer under increasingly hazardous conditions, I urge OSHA to move forward expeditiously to propose and finalize a rule to protect workers across the country, including in Florida,” Castor said.

Blooms to biofuel

Red tide and blue-green algae have plagued waterside communities with increasing frequency. Now, Rep. Byron Donalds wants to turn harmful blooms into clean energy.

The Naples Republican this week filed the Convert Harmful Algal Blooms To Fuel Act (HR 8779). The legislation will require the Army Corps of Engineers to implement efforts in watersheds for the Caloosahatchee River and Lake Okeechobee, as well as the St. Lucie River and connected estuary basin, to convert the algal biomass into biofuel.

Can these harmful blooms actually become useful? Image via FWC.

That would both mitigate the nutrient pollution in the waterways and reduce harmful effects on neighboring communities, while creating an energy source.

“This bill directs the (Army Corps of Engineers) to develop and deploy innovative tech that will filter water and convert retrieved algae biomass into renewable biofuels,” Donalds posted on X.

Road warrior

Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart toured portions of his district for a series of federal funding presentations. That included trips to governments in Miami-Dade County.

The Hialeah Republican on Monday provided a $4.19 million check for improvement of roadways in the City of Doral. The funds will go toward milling and resurfacing segments of NW 12th Street to NW 25th Street, from NW 107th Avenue to NW 87th Avenue.

Mario Díaz-Balart is bringing the bucks to the 305.

The same day, he also presented $3 million to the Miami-Dade County Commission for safety measures and attempts to reduce roadway fatalities, including construction that improves visibility for all vehicles and pedestrians on county roads. He presented that check to Miami-Dade County Commissioner René Garcia.

“I look forward to continuing to work with René Garcia and thank him for his leadership and teamwork in bringing back federal dollars to our constituents,” Díaz-Balart posted on X.

Veterans park

Meanwhile, Rep. María Elvira Salazar traveled to Palmetto Bay to hand off a $200,000 federal investment. The money will be used to construct The Charles & Fanny Dascal Veterans Park. The Coral Gables Republican presented the funding as part of a larger effort to celebrate veterans in South Florida.

María Elvira Salazar didn’t come home empty-handed either.

“I am honored to be here today in the great Village of Palmetto Bay to announce funding for an amazing new park,” Salazar said. “Our veterans deserve this recognition, and I am proud to secure these funds for Palmetto Bay, support our local community, and highlight the sacrifices of our veterans.”

The park is named for Charles and Fanny Dascal, Cuban American philanthropists and business owners who helped make the park a reality.

On this day

June 21, 1915 — “Supreme Court strikes down law restricting voting rights“ via Black Past — Guinn v. United States held the “grandfather clause” enacted by the Oklahoma State Legislature invalid because it violated the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 15th Amendment, the last of three post-Civil War amendments ratified to end slavery, endowed the rights of citizenship and the right to vote on freed African American slaves. The amendment specifically declared the rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude and that Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

June 21, 1982 — “John Hinckley Jr. found not guilty“ via — Hinckley, who on March 30, 1981, shot President Ronald Reagan and three others outside a Washington hotel, was found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity. In the trial, Hinckley’s defense attorneys argued their client was ill with narcissistic personality disorder, citing medical evidence, and had a pathological obsession with the 1976 film Taxi Driver, in which the main character attempts to assassinate a fictional Senator. His lawyers claimed that Hinckley had watched the movie more than a dozen times, was obsessed with the lead actress, Jodie Foster, and had attempted to reenact the events of the film in his own life.


Peter Schorsch publishes Delegation, compiled by Jacob Ogles, edited and assembled by Phil Ammann and Ryan Nicol.

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