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Trump's Wall Builds Outrage, Fear Among Florida Immigrants

Immigrants' advocates call building a border wall with Mexico anything but great. (kconnors/morguefile)
Immigrants' advocates call building a border wall with Mexico anything but great. (kconnors/morguefile)
January 26, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Donald Trump's campaign promise to take dramatic action on immigration has become a reality, and those who work with Florida's immigrant community say the actions carry a high moral and economic cost.

On Wednesday, President Trump signed orders to begin the construction process on a border wall with Mexico, remove funding for sanctuary cities, and broaden the criteria for priority deportations.

Francesca Menes with the Florida Immigrant Coalition said she rejects the notion that these measures will do anything to make Americans safer, but said the message to immigrants is clear.

"You want our communities to live in fear. You want our families to be separated,” Menes said. "You're targeting this group of individuals not for any other reason but for political posturing."

The term "sanctuary city" applies to communities with policies in place that limit cooperation with or involvement in federal immigration-enforcement actions. There's no exact count on how many such cities exist in Florida, but some experts have estimated the executive order could affect nearly half of Florida's counties.

Trump said his plan will save or create millions of jobs here in the United States. But Menes said the climate of fear will be devastating for Florida's economy.

"Especially when you're looking at agricultural jobs, when you're looking at hospitality jobs, you're looking at nannies, domestic workers,” she said, "and many of these people undocumented who are going to start going into hiding, and we're not going to have a workforce."

To pay for the border wall, Trump instructed the Department of Homeland Security to use existing funds to begin construction, while still insisting that Mexico will eventually foot the bill for what some estimate will be a $20 billion project.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL