Where are the Florida Republicans?
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Last fall, Florida Republicans, led by Governor Rick Scott, worked hard to deliver the state’s electoral votes to Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE despite the obvious economic costs the New York billionaire’s rhetoric and policy prescriptions would have on Florida.

Throughout his campaign, Trump was avowedly anti-immigrant, promising a Muslim-ban, deportations, and a border wall. Now, as Trump implements those policies, Florida Republicans have to face the dire impact Trump’s policies are having on the state’s key industries: tourism and agriculture.


In the wake of Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban, according to Frommer’s, the travel press noticed a “sharp drop in foreign tourism to our nation that imperils jobs and touristic income. It’s known as the ‘Trump Slump.’”   


As of last month, that ban has caused a 6.8 percent decline in tourism nationwide, according to Travel Weekly Magazine. If international tourism starts to decline, then Florida will be one of the first states to notice. Even after Trump’s “Muslim Ban” was blocked, actions of Border Protections agents sent a chilling signal to foreign tourists as a prominent Australian children’s author and a French Jewish Holocaust scholar were detained for hours. Add to that the treatment experienced by the son of Muhammad Ali, a U.S. citizen, at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

The Chicago Tribune reported last month, “Trump's immigration stance has begun to discourage foreign visits to major U.S. cities, threatening to cost billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.”  

The Tribune highlights a specific fact that should capture the attention of all Florida leaders, “for Miami, which is second to New York in overseas visitors to U.S. cities, flight searches from the U.K. ‘have fallen off a cliff,’ down 52 percent from last year, according to a Feb. 27 report by Kayak.co.uk, an online booking agent.”

On agriculture, Trump’s immigration crackdown is generating fear and anxiety across Central Florida’s farmlands, leading migrant farm workers to skip work, leaving unpicked crops on the field, out of fear they might be targeted for deportation. That has sounded serious alarms for Florida’s agriculture industry. Last month, the policy director for the state’s farm bureau told the Washington Post that “immigration has a different flavor with Donald Trump.”

They should worry. There’s a precedent for crops rotting in the fields. In 2011, after Alabama passed an anti-immigrant law, farm workers left the state and crops withered. The effort to harass and criminalize some of our hardest workers will have a devastating impact on our state’s vaunted agriculture industry. Farmers have figured that out. Will our politicians?

Even more troubling is Trump’s attempt to cut funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pay for his costly and useless border wall. Trump’s obsession with building the wall should not take precedence over the safety of Floridians, who are at risk of natural disasters like hurricanes. Just ask New Orleans what it’s like to have a weak FEMA after disaster strikes. At the same time, Trump is considering cuts to the Coast Guard, which could be another devastating blow to the state with the longest coastline in the continental United States.   

Now, as Republican return to Tallahassee for the first legislative session since Trump’s election, state lawmakers refuse to mitigate the impacts of Trump’s policies, and instead, it appears ready to double-down by replicating state-level versions of Trump’s misguided and costly anti-immigrant policies. At the national level, not much is different, as Republicans in the Florida congressional delegation, led by Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal Break glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins MORE, are enablers of the Trump agenda, even as it undermines our state.

Can Florida afford to dismantle its tourism and agricultural sectors by promoting federal and state policies that promote Trump’s extreme anti-immigrant agenda?

The short answer is no. Given the diversity of Florida and our state’s reliance on immigrants and foreign tourists, we shouldn’t endorse the anti-immigrant policies being offered in Washington D.C. or Tallahassee.  These policies are not only wrong and un-American, but detrimental for our economy.  The impacts are not theoretical; they are real and dire on a human and economic level.

Frank Mora is the director of the Kimberly Green Latin and Caribbean Center at Florida International University and former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere (2009-2013).

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.