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Trump's Immigration Plan Outrages Florida Immigrants, Advocates

Critics of Trump's immigration plan fear it would make life in America worse for millions of people. (Dodgerton Skillhause/morguefile)
Critics of Trump's immigration plan fear it would make life in America worse for millions of people. (Dodgerton Skillhause/morguefile)
September 2, 2016

MIAMI - Donald Trump has doubled down on his controversial rhetoric on immigration, and those who advocate for Florida's immigrant community say they're convinced his plans will make America anything but great.

Just hours after meeting with the president of Mexico, Trump repeated his call to build a border wall, and vowed zero tolerance for those he called "criminal aliens." And he didn't clarify his plans for the millions of non-criminal, undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S., including many in Florida.

Monica Russo, president of Service Employees International Union Florida, sees it as a scare tactic.

"While Trump and his pundits filled the airwaves once again with hateful, anti-immigrant rhetoric, millions of immigrants with and without papers, were making America great, by what? By working in Florida's farms, in our restaurants, in our hotels, hospitals, in our classrooms, and in multiple other industries," she said.

While Trump's aggressive stance on immigration and other issues may have helped earn him the nomination, this week's speech stunned many Republican Party strategists who believed that, after winning the nomination, he might back down a bit in an effort to court a broader range of voters.

Russo said she heard nothing in the speech that would appeal to Latino or other non-white voters, who represent a growing portion of the electorate. Nor does she believe his policy reflects the will of the people of Florida.

"Instead of vilifying immigrants, Trump should start listening to Florida's working families, to our voters," she added. "Since 2013, voters have said in poll after poll they support immigration reform with a path to citizenship."

In his speech, Trump stated that more than two million undocumented immigrants had some kind of criminal record and would be pursued for deportation, but it isn't clear how he arrived at that number. According to government statistics, about 176,000 immigrants at large in the country have been convicted of crimes and ordered deported. Experts say many more longtime residents with minor offenses, like traffic violations, may have been included in Trump's calculation.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL