Lawmakers in Florida reacted to a border security proposal in Washington that also provides funding for Ukraine and Israel. Meanwhile, legislators in Tallahassee considered how to alter a social media restrictions proposal.  

Florida lawmakers react to border security bill

The Senate eyes a test vote for Wednesday on the long-awaited budget security bill.

Senate negotiators released the legislation yesterday. It was put together by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to try to curb the flow of migrants while also passing funding for the wars in Ukraine and Israel.

But House Republicans already say this bill is going nowhere. The bill would give President Joe Biden more power to restrict migrant crossings during surges, allowing the Department of Homeland Security to restrict border crossings if migrant encounters reach more than 4,000 in a one week span.

The bill also changes the asylum system by raising the standard for who can apply and also speeds up the process.

The bill would also mean billions of dollars in funding for both foreign aid and border security.

The current proposal would allocate $60 billion in aid for the war-torn country of Ukraine, and $14 billion for aid to Israel.

“We have a huge issue in this country on our southern border. You can’t be a country if you can’t maintain control of your own territory. And really, this has been going on for many, many years, but it’s never been this bad," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said about the proposal. "They have now unveiled a piece of legislation, and I think people are seeing what a farce it is. To say that you only shut the border down once 5,000 people a day come in illegally, which is about 2 million a year. That’s basically legalizing illegal immigration. And there are so many other things wrong with it, but I just think it’s taking a step back. This shows me the contempt these people in D.C. have for American taxpayers,”

Both of Florida’s Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio have come out against the legislation.

Rubio called the legislation “an easy no.” He argued that Biden doesn’t need new laws to stop the migrant crisis.

Scott criticized the bill for allowing some migrants to receive work permits more easily.

Nationally, there’s division among Republicans in the Senate on this even as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is supporting it.

There’s been more unity among Democrats supporting the proposal, but not all are on board.

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez says the bill would make it harder for asylum seekers to have their claims heard. He also said that Senate leaders haven’t provided enough time to review the 400 page package.

Social media restrictions up for debate in the Florida Senate

Florida lawmakers are working out how a proposed social media bill should be written to ensure that it can pass.

A Senate subcommittee considered House Bill 1 Monday. If passed, the bill would require social media companies to verify how old people using their platforms are, and bans people under the age of 16 from using them.

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner discussed the bill, and where the defining line is between allowing parents to regulate their children, and where the government steps in.

“The vast majority of things, we want the parents to make those decisions," he said. "It’s time to act. We can’t allow to lose our kids, or to have kids engage in self harm or spend their childhood in depression."

He also discussed proposed changes to the legislation so that it can be stronger and stand up to court challenges.

“They have to meet certain criteria," he said. "They are really not interested in pulling away from what would be a lucrative business."

Last week Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wants a pathway for the bill to withstand any legal challenges in court. But he also understands that could be an issue as the bill gets crafted in the state legislature.

“Anything I do. I want a pathway for this to actually stick. So we’re going to look through that. So what I would say is I’m sympathetic to, as a parent, what’s going on with our youth," DeSantis said. "But I also understand that to just say that, you know, someone that’s 15 just cannot have it no matter what, that may create some some legal issues. And so I told the speaker I’d work with them on it.

"So I would say that, you know, this is something that’s likely going to evolve as it gets through the House and makes its way through the Senate. And we’ll see if we get a product that is going to be something that’s good. But I, I am concerned about the breadth of it, and I want to empower parents. I want to give parents tools to to be able to do this. And so I just think you got to be smart about how you do it."

Immigration bill could change some standards in Florida

The clock is ticking for a bill being referred to as the “Welcoming Florida Act.” The bill was sponsored by State Sen. Victor Torres and is aimed at overturning some of the strict immigration laws put into place last session, but it needs to be heard before several committees before it can advance.

Julia Aguayo de Hassler is no stranger to politics. Five years ago, she created the group known as the Libertad Club Hispano Republicano of Pasco County, which is a club aimed at educating people about the values of the Republican Party.

“We meet the third Monday of every month, and we always invite people from our community,” she said.

Members of the group also discuss legislation that they might not support. That’s the case with Senate Bill 1598.

“It is important to realize there is a difference between the people that have been here for years and those people that this administration has let come by the thousands without properly being vetted,” she said.

Bills like SB 1598 don’t help to strengthen the immigration system in the state, according to her.

The bill would repeal provisions relating to patient status data collected by hospitals. It could also delete the requirement that an employer discontinues employing a person after learning that the person has no legal status in the state. 

Those in favor of the bill say it is legislation that helps to combat last year’s immigration law, Senate Bill 1718.

“What it does is it seems to clear up some misconceptions and probably some things that would have been challenged with SB 1718,” said Danielle Hernandez, founder of the DVH Law Group.

Hernandez said last year’s law led the way to a town hall meeting to help educate the undocumented community about SB 1718.

She said if SB 1598 is passed, it would be a is a step in the right direction toward protecting the immigrant community she serves.

“This is an election year," Hernandez said. "It’s also very important for people to understand what is coming in our laws."

SB 1598 is still in committee in the Florida Senate and has yet to see a vote that would advance it to the floor.