The Florida House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously approved a measure setting aside $1.5 million to enhance security at all Jewish day schools in Florida. Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, said there had been 154 bomb threats reported at Jewish schools around the country, and 17 reported in Florida. Appropriations documents show the measure, HB 3653, would benefit students in preschool through high school. Florida has 35 Jewish day schools in nine counties.
Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, asked what security measures would be put in place with the funding. Fine said the appropriations would not be allocated for operating expenses and salaries. He added it would be used for specific one-time uses, such as putting up fences and bullet-proof glass. Rep. Larry Lee, D-Port St. Lucie, said he would not have a problem if the schools used the funding to hire security guards.
If some of these schools don t have a security guard and could use the funds to hire a security guard, that is appropriate, he said. Right now, schools all over the country are under attack.
Under new rules touted by Speaker Richard Corcoran, Florida House budget subcommittees must debate dozens of individual spending items, which members file as standalone legislation and discuss in open meetings. Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, Rep. Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville, Rep. Richard Stark, D-Weston and Rep. Randy Fin, R-Palm Bay are pushing for the bill to be approved. Funding would go to schools in Orange, Volusia, Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
SITA has announced the formation of the Secure Journeys Working Group to address today s airport security threats in the US and to work towards creating a secure and efficient passenger experience throughout the airport. The launch of the Secure Journeys initiative is in response to the current security climate and recent attacks on non-secure areas of the airport, including the Brussels airport bombing and Fort Lauderdale airport shooting. Members of the working group cite these incidents as examples that demonstrate the need to rethink the approach to getting passengers through the airport quickly and safely.
Because CVG is a mid-market airport, we have the unique ability to quickly test the effectiveness of emerging technology on security and efficiency, says Brian Cobb, vice president of Customer Services, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). As a member of Secure Journeys, we can use our knowledge to help shape recommendations to the TSA and CBP based on real-world experience rather than untested concepts. We look forward to collaborating as a community to ensure the safety and convenience of the traveling public. Secure Journeys is an evolution and expansion of SITA s Border Automation User Group which was formed in 2015 to facilitate implementation of the US Customs and Border Protection s (CBP) Automated Passport Control program.
The newly extended group will address growing challenges, including:
Moving passengers and baggage more rapidly through non-secure areas of the airport, such as check-in and baggage claim areas
Reducing and effectively managing security wait times to reduce lines of people in non-secure areas
Incorporating biometrics for passenger screening authentication
Addressing ways in which identity management solutions can be used along with data analytics to reduce the growing concerns around the insider threat.
According to SITA, the value of Secure Journeys is its ability to bring together experts and representatives from across the air transport spectrum to provide input and recommendations based on their unique perspective and experience. Given the Administration s focus on transportation security and commitment to large-scale investment for the nation s infrastructure, the solutions and recommendations identified by Secure Journeys are vital to informing key decision makers.
As the US government looks for answers to a new set of threats passengers face, Secure Journeys will identify solutions to common soft target challenges, passenger screening and insider threats and develop a set of recommended standards for US airports to adopt, says David Menzel, sales director Government Markets, SITA, founding member, Secure Journeys. We look forward to continuing work with the Department of Homeland Security and our airline and airport partners to make America s airports safer and improve the overall passenger experience from reservation to destination.
House lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday that tries to limit the role of Vermont police in federal immigration-enforcement activities. And while the proposal has won support across party lines in Montpelier, some Republicans say they worry the legislation could undermine border security. It fell to Rep. Chip Conquest, a Democrat from Newbury, to present the bill on the House floor Tuesday, and defend its merit. Conquest said that, put simply, the legislation is a defense of Vermont values.
In particular this bill can be thought of as a statement about the value we place on the cultural heritage and diversity of all our residents, and our unwillingness to discriminate against anyone on the basis of certain personally identifying information, Conquest said. Republican Gov. Phil Scott has led the charge for the legislation, which would prohibit state and local police from enforcing federal immigration laws, unless Scott signs off on agreement allowing them to do so. Scott has said he thinks Trump’s orders may violate the U.S. Constitution.
The bill also prevents state agencies from sending personally identifying information to the federal government, if that information would be used to create a national registry based on religion, immigration status, nation of origin or sexual orientation.
That, I would hope, is something that would be repugnant to all of us, Conquest said. Lawmakers took up the bill in the wake of executive orders signed by President Donald Trump, orders that, in part, contemplate increased roles for state and local police in intensified border-security initiatives. Trump has also publicly contemplated the creation of a national registry of Muslims.
“It’s a message, a clear message to those who live in fear of persecution in our state, that we have their backs.” Rep. Janet Ancel
The bill sailed through the Senate, where all 30 members, including seven Republicans, voted in favor of the bill. But the bill has encountered GOP resistance in the House, where some lawmakers have balked at the idea of legislating against a registry that doesn t even exist.
What I m hearing is that this bill is a solution to a problem that don t exist? Milton Rep. Ron Hubert, a Republican, asked Conquest Tuesday.
In a manner of speaking, yes, it s being sort of proactive, Conquest said. Hubert said he s concluded that the legislation is less about immigration policy than it was about political grandstanding.
This is just a slap at the administration in Washington, no more, no less, Hubert said. And I can t support this.
Irasburg Rep. Vicki Strong, a Republican, said she thinks supporters of the bill underestimate the threat posed by foreign enemies.
We ve forgotten we re in a war on terrorism, and I don t take that lightly – my son Jesse died in Iraq, Strong said. Strong s son, Marine Sgt. Jesse Strong, was killed in action on Jan. 26, 2005, in a roadside attack.
We have young men like my son who have given their lives for freedom, and yet we need to protect our freedom. So it s a tough balance, and I m not confident that what we passed just not has the balance of safety plus compassion, Strong said. But more Republicans voted for the bill than against it on Tuesday – they supported it by a count of 25-24. The overall vote total was 110-24. And members of the GOP caucus offered some of the most poignant defenses of the legislation.
“We’ve forgotten we’re in a war on terrorism, and I don’t take that lightly – my son Jesse died in Iraq.” Rep. Vicki Strong
Northfield Republican Anne Donahue recalled Vermont s role in the eugenics movement, which used registries to target people based on nation of origin or disability status.
I think there are times that there is a need to be proactive, that there is a need to say this is not something that we will participate or be active in, Donahue said, referencing the possibility of national Muslim registry. Republican Rep. Kurt Wright says that, for him, the bill expresses a commitment to humanity.
The only thing I need to think about is the picture that we all saw of the 4-year-old boy in Aleppo with the blood rolling down his face, Wright said. I don t need any other examples than that. But Wright says voters shouldn t confuse concern about Trump s orders with disdain for increased border security more generally.
And we can want to help that little 4-year-old boy in Aleppo and others like him, but also be concerned about security, Wright said. And that doesn t mean that anybody who has concerns about security is a bigot, is a racist, is a xenophobe.
Democrats called the bill an affirmation of Vermont s belief in the value of immigrants, whether they re in the country legally or not. And they noted that the bill does not prohibit state or local law-enforcement agencies from collaborating with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents, only from enforcing federal laws on those agents behalves.
This bill is not a political statement, it s about promoting the Vermont values that we all hold dear, said Burlington Rep. Barbara Rachelson. Rep. Janet Ancel recalled the passage of resolutions in the towns she represents – Marshfield, Plainfield and Calais – related to sanctuary-city designations intended to guard against the deportation of undocumented immigrants living in those communities. In listening to the debates over those resolutions, Ancel said she was struck by what it actually means to say that we re all connected in some way to the presence of immigrants in our state.
We re talking about our ancestors. We re talking about parents, our grandparents, members of our families, Ancel said. And what we realize now is that there are members of our communities who live in fear of persecution on the basis of religious grounds or the country of origin. This isn t the country I want to live in and I m grateful it isn t the state I live in.
Ancel said she doesn t think the bill goes far enough. But she said it s a serious and concrete step in the right direction.
It aligns our laws and our practices with our values, Ancel said. It s a message, a clear message to those who live in fear of persecution in our state that we have their backs. Jay Diaz, a staff attorney at the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, says the legislation doesn t provide the kind of immigrant protections his organization had hoped to see. Diaz says the bill is a useful symbolic gesture.
Where the bill is lacking is in the substantive protections that it should offer immigrants, Diaz says. The bill prohibits state and local police agencies from entering into what are known as 287 agreements with federal authorities, agreements that essentially deputize local police as federal immigration-enforcement agents. It does not, however, sever the enforcement link between local jurisdiction and federal authorities.
It s been a common misconception that the bill is going to stop the collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE. What the bill does is just stop the formal collaboration, Diaz says.
Diaz says lawmakers could provide more substantive protections to undocumented immigrants by prohibiting local police from alerting federal authorities to the whereabouts of people who are in the country illegally. That kind of information sharing will continue, Diaz says, under the legislation approved Tuesday.