JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A political ad running on the air this week is funded by a political action committee for Florida's Richard Corcoran, the speaker of the House.
The Watchdog PAC features Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, arguing against sanctuary cities and referring to the killing of Kate Seinle in San Francisco in 2015.
It's a controversial approach to a controversial topic.
Corcoran has been arguing for enforcement of immigration laws for some time, including his speech to open the legislative session last month in the state Capitol.
"Last session we passed a bill ... that said we will not have a single sanctuary city in our state. The Senate didn't take it up, and now we have politicians who say they want to make the entire state of Florida a sanctuary state, just like California," Corcoran said. "That's unacceptable."
Corcoran said it's a matter of rule of law, that politicians who don't want immigration laws enforced threaten safety and even society.
"The law is clear, that the federal government is responsible for the federal immigration laws and responsible for the enforcement of those laws," said News4Jax political analyst Rick Mullaney, who is also an attorney. "If it's perceived that you are interfering with that interference or enforcement, many believe you're not complying with the rule of law."
There are no sanctuary cities in Florida, but the speaker made a priority of a bill that would punish locals officials with fines or removal from office if they did not fully cooperate with federal immigration agents.
Corcoran's team criticized Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for his stance on immigrants. Gillum has called the ad a "race baiting" tactic.
"Florida is not a sanctuary state and I'm not aware of any sanctuary cities in Florida. I wouldn't confuse Florida with California," Mullaney said. "Certainly, California and San Francisco in particular have been very aggressive on this issue, but you can certainly see that conservatives in Florida are strongly opposed to the notion of a sanctuary city. They are opposed to the notion of sanctuary state. Some of them trying to propose legislation to try and prevent them happened in Florida."
Corcoran's bill passed the House.
News4Jax spoke with Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, who filed the Senate companion bill to the House speaker's legislation. It was temporarily postponed in the judicial committee and may be running out of time for this session.
What about that implication about an illegal immigrant and violence? A 2013 research study published by a University of Massachusetts-Boston professor found that crime rates are lower among first-generation immigrants than they are among the rest of the American population.
Corcoran and Gillum plan to debate the issue. They'll face off in a Tallahassee studio Feb. 13.
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