New Florida Majority Executive Director Andrea Mercado released the following statement as near 100 people rallied outside the offices of Rep. Mario Diaz Balart to urge his rejection of President Donald Trump’s budget proposal.  

“As our Members of Congress return home for the traditional August recess, it’s important that the people of Florida let them know not just our opinions on the issues, but our expectations of them as leaders. We expect them to stand up against hate and efforts to criminalize and terrorize our communities.

We welcome home Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart to South Florida, who in Washington sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee  and its Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee. In that capacity, we expect him to support a budget that provides the kind of education, affordable housing and healthcare funding that supports the people of his district and this state.  

That means standing up against a proposed budget that would enable the continued separation of families and further criminalize immigrants.  The current budget proposal includes:

    • Funding to hire 500 more Border Patrol agents and 1,000 more ICE immigration agents, expanding even more the deportation force which has already grown from 2,710 agents in FY 2003 to 7,995 agents in FY 2016.
    • Increasing the number of people in immigration detention to over 51,000 every day. This means locking up the approximate equivalent of the population of the city of Miami over the course of nine days.
    • Funding for 70 additional prosecutors to persecute immigrants as criminals while denying them due process.
    • One billion dollars to expand the military.

We have seen what happens when society relies on criminalization and detention to secure safety. Mandatory minimum sentencing and other enforcement heavy aspects of the disastrous War on Drugs of the 1980s are widely seen as having failed while needlessly destroying the economic and social fabric of mostly African American communities.  

Now is not the time to repeat the unjust and ineffective policies of the past. Now is the time for our leaders to stand with families and stand up for what’s right.