Separating migrant children from their undocumented parents was a tipping point.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated with a correction. Correction appended below.
As the federal government dealt with the blowback of having separated more than 2,300 children from their parents, Florida's elected leaders knew they had a crisis on their hands. Official statements only carry so much weight when kids are housed in detention shelters, including two facilities in South Florida. One of those, in Homestead, is the nation's second-largest.
The response from both current and hopeful electeds was commendable. That is – in most respects.
Central Florida-based U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto and Val Demings were on the front lines over the weekend. Soto and fellow Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Frederica Wilson and Ted Deutch were granted entrance to the Homestead facility, though five Miami-Dade and state elected officials with them were denied. Meanwhile, both Murphy and Demings trekked out to parts of the Texas-Mexico border, with Murphy working in McAllen, Texas, while Murphy spent time in Tornillo.
As for the gubernatorial hopefuls, the Sunshine State's five Democratic candidates – former congresswoman Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Jeff Greene and Winter Park businessman Chris King – attended the "March to Keep Families Together" in Homestead last weekend.
Juxtaposed with how the GOP gubernatorial candidates reacted to the same crisis, there was a stark difference: In a fundraising email, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam embraced Trump's "aggressive" immigration agenda; in news reports, however, Putnam stressed the importance of enforcing the law in a "humane way" and said that "families should be kept together." Even the other out-in-front GOP candidate, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, could at least muster up the courage to not endorse separating families, which says something coming from a guy who just scored a golden-ticket endorsement from the same fat-cat administration that supports the immigration policy.
Then there's the marquee fight between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott, both of whom have already been clawing it out over Nelson's congressional seat en route to the November elections.
After having been turned away from the Homestead facility last Tuesday, Nelson managed to make it in over the weekend. In a video on Twitter he noted that he wasn't allowed to see the children, and that there's no current plan to reunify them with their parents.
There's a minor catch to Nelson's sincerity: He was one of the 10 Senate Democrats that helped confirm Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in December – yep, the same Nielsen who has been lying about how family separation was a matter of law, not policy.
Then there's Scott, who was quick to note that the separation practice "needs to stop." Yet he couldn't manage to make it out to the nation's second-largest facility – in the state of which he's head honcho, no less.
So there you have it. Not a single one of the Florida officials mentioned above won't be on a ballot in November. Let their actions (or lack thereof) speak for themselves.
Due to a reporting error, this story originally stated that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene did not attend the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead. Greene was in fact there, and we deeply regret the error.