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Hunting Undocumented Immigrants,
Travis Hutson Discovers His Inner Jim Crow

| December 5, 2015

travis hutson

Travis Hutson has decided to make undocumented immigrants his demons. (c FlaglerLive)

Three years ago the Supreme Court reached a split verdict on an anti-immigration law from Arizona. Justices allowed cops to ask for immigrants’ papers, an unfortunate starching of brown-shirted police states. But they invalidated other sections of the law that criminalized the presence of undocumented immigrants. Immigration is the federal government’s business, the justices ruled, not the business of local police or state legislators. Cops may go after undocumented immigrants who commit crimes. But they may not create policy or criminal categories that apply only to immigrants, however undocumented.

pierre tristam column flaglerlive “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. In other words whether or not states and cities like how the federal government is dealing with immigration, they have no place butting in.

Our own Senator Travis Hutson appears not to be familiar with the law of the land. He’s filed a pair of bills so far that are making him seem as if he has Trump envy, demonizing undocumented immigrants and manufacturing a problem where there isn’t one. One bill would automatically aggravate the penalty normally imposed on citizen if it’s committed by an undocumented immigrant. A first-degree misdemeanor, for example, would become a third-degree felony. A second-degree felony would be bumped up to a first-degree felony, doubling prison time. Prosecutors and judges use aggravating factors to harsh up their sentences all the time. But they usually cite the heinousness of crimes, not the skin pigment or nationality of the criminal, for their decision. At least not explicitly so. 

Hutson’s second bill takes its inspiration from the same discriminatory poison. It more directly criminalizes an undocumented immigrant, if that individual remains in Florida in spite of a deportation order. Now, considering the Obama administration’s war on undocumented immigrants, a harsher war by far that either George W. Bush’s or Bill Clinton’s, it’s a wonder there are that many deportable immigrants left: they’ve been deported at an average rate of 400,000 a year on Obama’s watch, every year he’s been president. Well over half have been non-criminal deportations. Obama’s version of Operation Wetback–the Eisenhower-era policy of mass cruelty so beloved and of course so mischaracterized by Operation Trump– slowed down last year in the face of criticism, but not so significantly as to reverse the battering of families and removal of unproblematic immigrants. 

That wouldn’t matter to Hutson. If he finds individuals who have deportation orders in Florida, whether they’ve been charged with crimes or not, he would automatically slap a first-degree felony on them. Combine that with cops’ liberty to chase after brown skins for their papers, and you have a recipe for disaster. Not that most police departments are looking for more responsibilities. They’re overrun and overworked as it is, mostly with domestic and drug crimes. Most cops aren’t interested in acting like border patrol agents anymore than they’re interested in being firefighters or psychologists. They know that going after undocumented immigrants undermines their job by forcing immigrants underground, making them suspicious or fearful of police, and opening the way to a new and unnecessary confrontations. Cops are having a hard enough time dealing with the crisis of black civilian shootings. They don’t need a new epidemic of shootings resulting from confrontations with terrified immigrants.

And for what? thanks to Obama’s tactics, undocumented immigration has been falling, not rising. And crime by the undocumented is less of an issue, proportionately, than by our own home-grown citizens.

But Hutson’s proposed legislation seems not to care much about the consequences, or the legality, or the malfeasance of going after a segment of society that hasn’t even been the sort of problem that warrants a state legislator’s ignorance of issues closer to home. It’s kind of like how the justice system treated blacks for many decades, and to some extent still does, imposing greater punishment because of skin color. That’s been diminishing. But Hutson would reinvent Jim Crow for undocumented immigrants. It’s not only unconstitutional. It’s immoral, and it’s bigoted.

But Trump has made bigotry fashionable, even acceptable for a scary segment of society. That must be what Hutson is tapping, heaven knows why: it’s not as if undocumented immigration–or immigration of any kind–has been a concern at any of the legislative delegation meetings Hutson has been attending in Flagler and and St. Johns counties, nor would it be in Volusia if his district were to expand southward, as expected. There are more serious, more important issues to deal with, like funding sewer plants and drainage projects and the odd crumbling bridge, though admittedly none of those needs are as sexy or Fox-grabbing as bashing brown skins. I expected better of him. But what do I know. I’m an immigrant.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Follow him on Twitter @PierreTristam.

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29 Responses for “Hunting Undocumented Immigrants,
Travis Hutson Discovers His Inner Jim Crow”

  1. Knightwatch says:

    Hutson, like too many other Republican politicians, gives voice and impetus to virulent anti-immigrant prejudice. He appeals to the fearful and the hateful side of his conservative constituents. He promotes bigotry as the new American reality, and worse, uses his position of political power to legitimatize ignorance, prejudice and exclusion.

    Floridians should think long and hard about the kind of state – even country – we want to be. The nations of the world need a responsible and visionary America to turn to for leadership in these troubled times. Florida needs to lead America against the hate, fear, prejudice and bigotry that Hutson and his far-right zealots so egregiously represent.

  2. Fredrick says:

    How about calling it what is is Pierre? If you are “undocumented” you have not entered the country in a legal manner. You are an ILLEGAL immigrant. Why can’t you call it what it is? You are an immigrant, you entered legally. Good for you. So did my family. If you break the law and get caught then back you go. That’s not being a bigot. That is just enforcing the law. I

  3. Nancy N. says:

    I wish I shared you confidence that police have little interest in harassing brown people for their papers.

    There’s no way either of these bills is constitutional. So either Hutson is painfully stupid, or more likely, he’s crazy like a fox and knows that while these will never stand up legally that they will make him appear a stand-up guy to his raving lunatic Tea Party base. It’s not about actually doing something. It’s just about being able to point to trying. If the “liberal elite” smacks him down to stop him…all the better for him to play the victim.

  4. Lin says:

    Yes this is a federal govt function but the laws are not being enforced by the Feds

    Let’s just say it is another law that the president decides he doesn’t want enforced, and another and another. That’s not ok with me and a lot of other people. Doesn’t make us all the names we are being called by the progressives. I want my family to be safe.

  5. chopshop says:

    It is no longer America the beautiful its America the suckers. They need to get the national guard and homeland security hunt them down and deport them. More Obama left wing b.s. We don’t have jobs for the people here now. They need to put a freeze on immigration until all Americans have jobs.

  6. Ron says:

    First off. This news article is anti American. America is the land of the free. We treat all people with respect. We do not descimanate because of race or religion. But we have Muslims that do not recognized other people’s religion or cultures. if i was entering another country would i aspect them to change their ways? If you do not agree with their religion and faith they will kill you. This is the reality. It is time to close our bouders to this religious faith. They have proved they can not be trusted. This is not the American way. They do not deserve the freedom that we provide to all legal immigrants. My relatives came to this country seeking a better life. They in brace our values. They learned to speak our laguage and honor our cultures. We need to protect our cultures. If you do not honor our culture it is time for you to leave.

  7. Fredrick says:

    You all can keep trying to spin this that the GOP is “anti immigration”, but you could make it factual by saying the GOP is “anti- ILLEGAL immigration”. Stop leaving out the facts. All they are saying i do it legally.

  8. Sherry says:

    and. . . just how do we make our families “safe” from the “white” citizens of the USA? God forbid we create and enforce any real federal gun safety laws. . . even for those on the “terrorist watch list”. . . just ask our Republican Congress about that insanity! Terrorism is terrorism. . . and it doesn’t just strike from illegal immigrants. Here is just a small sample of crimes committed by white supremacists in just the past couple of years:

    Oak Creek, Wisconsin, August 5, 2012: White supremacist Wade Michael Page allegedly opens fire in a Sikh temple, killing six and wounding four before shooting himself after being wounded by police. Page was a member of the Hammerskins, a racist skinhead group. He also played in the white power bands End Apathy and Definite Hate.

    Central Florida, May 2012: Fourteen white supremacist members of the racist skinhead group American Front are arrested on paramilitary training, hate crime, weapons and conspiracy charges. The members allegedly discussed a number of possible actions, including creating a disturbance in front of Orlando’s city hall, firing into a building, and attacking an anti-racist event.

    Gilbert, Arizona, May 3, 2012: White supremacist and anti-immigration extremist J.T. Ready shoots and kills four people, including an infant, before fatally shooting himself.

    Naugatuck, Connecticut, March 2012: Connecticut skinhead Stephen Sorriero is arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree assault and breach of peace relating to a St. Patrick’s Day double stabbing.
    Illinois and Florida, March 2012: Members of a white supremacist biker gang associated with Aryan Nations are arrested in Florida on drugs and explosives charges following a three-year undercover police investigation. Some of the suspects were charged with threatening to throw a destructive device, while several others were charged with trafficking in prescription drugs and other offenses.

    Washington, Oregon, California, September-October 2011: Unaffiliated white supremacists David Pedersen and Holly Grigsby allegedly engage in a multi-state killing spree. Authorities say that the couple murdered Pedersen’s father and stepmother in Seattle, a random white male in Oregon as part of a carjacking, and an African-American male in California as part of another carjacking.

    Houston, Texas, August 2011: White supremacists Charles Cannon, Michael McLaughlin, and Brian Kerstetter allegedly attack a 29-year-old African American man at a Houston bus stop while hurling racial epithets at the victim. According to the indictment, at least one of the defendants used racial slurs, while all four defendants surrounded the victim, punching and kicking his head, face and body.

    Spokane, Washington, February 2011: White supremacist Kevin Harpham is arrested for the failed bombing of a Spokane, Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day parade. Harpham planted a backpack containing a pipe bomb designed to be triggered by a radio frequency system along the parade route. Harpham was sentenced to 32 years in prison.

    Hardy, Arkansas, January 2011: Five white supremacists associated with Blood & Honour and the racist prison gang Aryan Circle firebomb the residence of an interracial couple. Jason Barnwell was sentenced to 20 years; Gary Dodson to 15 years; Wendy Treybig, Dustin Hammond, and Jake Murphy pleaded guilty, each receiving sentences between 21 and 54 months.

    Cooperstown, North Dakota, January 2011: Self-proclaimed white supremacist Daniel Wacht murders and decapitates 54-year-old Kurt Johnson. Johnson’s severed head was found in a crawl space in Wacht’s basement. His body has not been found. Wacht was sentenced to serve life in prison with no parole.

    California, December 2010: Thirty-four white supremacists are arrested as part of multi-agency sting operation in Southern California called “Operation Stormfront.” The multi-agency law enforcement investigation resulted in the arrest of a number of white supremacists with ties to prison and street gangs and included charges that ranged from extortion to conspiracy and solicitation of aggravated assault to murder.

    Hamilton, Ohio, November 2010: White supremacist William Hobert Manis, is arrested for the alleged kidnapping and rape of a 22-year-old woman over a 10-day period. Manis, who has the nickname “Wild Bill,” has long been affiliated with the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations. Manis was charged with 18 counts of rape and one count of kidnapping and pleaded guilty in 2011 to two charges of kidnapping and nine counts of rape.

    San Angelo, Texas, May 2010: Richard Dennis, a member of the Aryan Circle racist prison gang, is arrested after leading police on a high-speed chase, shooting a San Angelo police officer, and barricading himself in a home. In November 2011, Dennis was sentenced to life in prison for attempted capital murder for shooting the police officer.

  9. Steve says:

    It more directly criminalizes an undocumented immigrant if they remain here in spite of a deportation order?? What part of illegal don’t you understand? You can’t even say the word “illegal”. Undocumented IS illegal. They are breaking the law, period. Maybe Hutson is trying to solve this ILLEGAL immigration problem. How can you say he is trying to solve a problem when there isn’t one? There IS a problem, a major one? They are ILLEGAL. That is the problem, ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. Try cutting the line in the supermarket or movie theatre. Watch what happens to you. Send the illegals back, let them get documented and come in the right way. Problem solved.

  10. Igato Takalika says:

    If not for the undocumented,lettuce would be $5.00 a head and the Republicans would have to clean their own toilets.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Statistics, Statistics —-The POTUS in order to pander to Latino’s stated, “Don’t Worry We Are Not Actually Deporting More Illegals Than Bush”. This was said 9/28/11

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Actually what happened if you look at the statistics, two things happened. Number one is, is that there was a much greater emphasis on criminals rather than non-criminals. And there’s been a huge shift in terms of enforcement. And that began as soon as I came into office, that change has taken place. Secondly the statistics are actually a little deceptive because what we’ve been doing is with the stronger border enforcement we’ve been apprehending folks at the borders and sending them back. That is counted as a deportation even though they may have only been held for a day, or 48 hours sent back. That’s counted as a deportation.

    So while Mr. Tristam would have us believe the Obama deportation “numbers”, surely the POTUS would disagree.

    JUST THE FACTS–the entire article can be seen at:

  12. Knightwatch says:

    O.k., Lin, tell us which laws this president doesn’t enforce. Critics like you declare President Obama soft on immigration, but according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data the Department of Homeland Security deported 414,481 people in fiscal year 2014. Each year of the Obama administration has seen more deportations than any preceding president; the pre-Obama high of 358,886 removals in FY2008 came during President George W. Bush’s last full fiscal year in office.

    So, Lin, be specific. Which laws are not being enforced?

  13. Knightwatch says:

    Hey Frederic, take a look at Chopshop’s comment.

  14. Knightwatch says:

    Heartily agree, Sherry. Note that Republicans’ first impulse after a mass shooting is to push for more guns. Head Clown Trump seems to think that if every American man, woman and child carried a gun we’d all be safer. This despite every study showing the opposite. Sadly, we’ll continue to massacre each other until Americans rise up against this right-wing madness and vote them all out of office.

  15. Knightwatch says:

    Chopshop, the Federal Reserve considers a base unemployment rate (the U-3 rate) of 5.0 to 5.2 percent as “full employment” in the economy. We are currently at 5 percent. For the most part, Americans that want jobs have them. Maybe not the job they want, but a job. What full employment means to our economy is that it is a worker’s market now, not an employer’s as with past high unemployment rates. We are already seeing wages rising as employers bid up pay scales to compete for workers.

    Give it up, Chopshop … happy days are here again!

  16. Sherry says:

    Ahhh . . . The Blaze. . . now there’s a credible, unbiased source for ya. . . Glenn Beck’s personal propaganda machine.

    Thanks again Knightwatch for your valuable, factual observations.

    What people are not talking about is how our wealthy citizens and many business owners actually NEVER want ALL Immigrants to be LEGAL! Yes, read it again. . . there are many, many powerful people in our country who are doing everything they can to KEEP undocumented workers here and KEEP them ILLEGAL!

    Here’s the dirty little secret that tells why this is happening. . . they want to maintain an underclass of very cheap labor. . . in order to maximize their profits, and of course to under pay their servants and service providers. Think this through. . . IF the millions of undocumented workers were ALL deported and allowed to come back legally, or IF a path to citizenship was created:

    1. Minimum wages would need to be paid= Less Profits/Higher Costs for the Consumer. . . that’s US!
    2. Overtime laws would apply to ALL workers= DITTO
    3. Employer’s share of payroll taxes would apply= DITTO
    4. Sick and holiday/vacation pay would apply to ALL= DITTO
    5. OSHA and Workers’ Comp would apply to ALL= DITTO

    This is a complex issue that has vast economic consequences!

  17. Lin says:


    Jeh Johnson said at the Conference of Mayors that illegal immigrants have earned the right of citizenship.
    They have earned nothing by breaking our laws. Your statistics are meaningless unless you are at the border counting people coming in. We cannot count or vet those we don’t know are here, thus the risk to our safety.

    You don’t let any opportunity pass to list crimes of one race. This isn’t about race, it is about legal vs illegal and safe vs unsafe. What would happen in this thread if I listed the crimes of other races or the illegal immigrants? It would just be unproductive and I would be accused of being racist. Are you?

  18. Fredrick says:

    Igato there are plenty of people on welfare / food stamps / sucking from the government tit, that could pick some lettuce and clean some toilets.

  19. Anonymous says:

    .Ok so its a federal law against ILLEGAL immigration so in the mindset of our leftist it is only the feds that can make the arrest. Does that go for ALL other federal crimes? Do the feds take action against states if local law enforcement apprehends other criminals or only when its ILLEGALs do they have an issue with local law enforcement aiding the laws???

  20. just me says:

    @knightwatch ya do know the #s you speak of are not exactly as they tell us. As what is NOW counted as deportations are those caught at the boarder trying to enter illegally something that was NOT counted as deportations in past administration’s.

  21. Knightwatch says:

    Good point, just me. But my point to Lin is that this administration has not failed to enforce the law. You are correct in that the emphasis has shifted to apprehending illegal aliens crossing into the U.S., then documenting and legally deporting them (called expedited removal) or by using a previous order of deportation (called reinstatement of final orders). If they come back, they can be charged with a crime.

    However we measure deportations, the number of people turned back at the border is at record levels. In fact, latest data says that in terms of illegal Mexicans, we are now seeing a net negative outflow – more are leaving than entering the U.S.

    In any event, this administration is decidedly NOT failing to enforce the law.

  22. Woody says:

    Once Trump gets in he will fix this.I can”t wait

  23. Sherry says:

    For those who somehow did not understand my point about the terrorists who are “white, US citizens”. My point is this: Terrorists and criminals come from all religions, all cultures and have all skin colors. Sowing fear and hate and villianizing any group of people based on ANY prejudice is ripping our country apart. This kind of divisiveness and destruction from within is precisely what ALL “terrorists” are trying to achieve! They are massively manipulating us and we are losing!

    We are losing our since of justice
    We are losing our perspective
    We are losing our kindness
    We are losing our freedoms
    We are losing our rights
    We are losing our peace of mind
    We are losing our compassion
    We are losing our ethics and integrity
    We are losing our honor
    We are losing our will to do the “right thing”

    We need to stop the constant drum beat of fear and hate. . . from ALL sources! We need to band together against anyone who tries to divide us! We need to summon the courage to unite in love of our fellow humans and in the diversity that makes our nation unique and wonderful in the world. We need to open our hearts and act according to our better angels. . . and move away from negative labels, bigotry, racism, prejudice and fascism.

    I urge each person in our community to rise up on the side of open minded love, compassion, forgiveness, thoughtfulness, humanity, equality, graciousness, reasonableness, fraternity, integrity and honesty. Practice, teach and extol those positive values and character traits. We can turn the tide away from the dark side. . . and towards the light of a higher, much more positive, civilization

  24. Nancy N. says:

    Lin – you doth protest too much that this isn’t about race. Whenever the issue of undocumented/illegal (whatever your preferred term is) immigration comes up, all I hear about are brown people: hispanics, middle eastern people. No one is real concerned about snow white Canadians sneaking over our northern borders. Tell me again it isn’t about race?

    The Republican god Reagan offered amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. I suppose that was leftist bs too, chop shop?

    Ron, you aren’t making your claim that your family learned the language appear very credible. Do you actually have any Muslim friends? I’ll bet a million dollars the answer is NO. Your claim to know what Muslims want or are like is based on nothing but television and internet propaganda. You want to preserve our culture. Whose culture? Who decides what is our culture and what should be preserved and protected? America is a melting pot with many ethnic, religious and regional cultures contained within it. There is no “our” culture. What you really mean is that you want YOUR culture protected – and your culture is apparently xenophobic and afraid of outsiders (and of becoming a minority, as I’m sure you are a white male who statistics show will become outnumbered soon). You want to protect your hold on power that you see slipping. Give it up.

    Immigrants take jobs that Americans don’t want, at pay levels that Americans would never work for. Eliminating them from the labor pool will not result in a rush of Americans begging to be allowed to pick crops all day or clean hotel toilets for starvation wages.

    Lost in ALL of this discussion is that if we make something a felony, guess who has to pay to convict and lock up these people? TAXPAYERS. As a taxpayer, I strongly object to my money being spent to fill our prisons with immigrants. We’re already paying to lock up 100,000 felons in this state. There’s an estimated 1 million undocumented immigrants in Florida. Locking up even a small percentage of them would cost the state millions.

  25. Lin says:

    Sherry and Nancy,
    There are those of all ethnicities calling for a pause in immigration at this time.
    Even Jimmy Carter paused Iranian immigration and had a sort of registration in 1980?
    Is he racist?

    Any non-progressive that suggests means to protect the country gets lectured about race
    It is you that don’t get it. Let’s disagree about principle but look deeper into the motives here.
    The racism here is in the eyes of the beholder.

  26. Sherry says:

    Lin, hopefully we never stop learning from our past mistakes. Yes, some leaders in our country and others have made terrible decisions. . . BUT. . . to do the asinine Trump “double down” and try to justify today’s xenophobic racism, (and now outrageous religious prejudice with the Muslim ban) simply because leaders did similar horrific things in the past, is just like saying “two wrongs make a right” !

    This kind of thing is plain WRONG and it is Un-American! We should be incredibly embarrassed that such witch hunts are happening in our country. Travis Hutson and his bigoted compatriots have no place in a “civilized” government body.

  27. Sherry says:

    BTW Lin. . . racists and bigots come all walks of life, all religions, all cultures and have all skins colors. Simply because there are way too many of them does not make them any less racist!

    When it comes down to hatred of one’s fellow brothers and sisters of the human race, “majority rules” only counts in Hell.

    Think about that. . . is the creation of hell on earth what you are defending?

  28. Conception Birckhead says:

    Racism is a vain and superficial prejudice for weak minded folks. The concept that people would judge one more particular person based on problems that a particular person can not manage such as race, gender or nationality, is entirely weak minded bully strategies. We are Clovis reject all of this inane bickering. Thanks for selecting what is intelligent and right. There are a lot far better techniques to discriminate, such as on morals, judgement and alternatives.

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