Catholic leader Ron DeSantis - a self-styled defender of the Christian faith - and Florida Republicans accused him of seeking to criminalize 'compassion' in a new anti-immigrant crackdown.

At the press conference, the archbishop behind the microphones and the platform

Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Thursday, February 10, 2022, in Miami Shores, Fla.AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

  • Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski says the Republican immigration bill would criminalize “sympathy.”

  • By Govt. The bill, sponsored by Ron DeSantis, would make it a crime to knowingly transport an undocumented person.

  • Wenski accused Florida Republicans of trying to “demonize” vulnerable people.

A proposal in Florida makes one It is a crime to knowingly provide transportation to an undocumented immigrant It’s a “punitive” measure that effectively outlaws being a good Christian, Miami’s Catholic archbishop said Thursday, accusing its proponents — including Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — of seeking to criminalize “compassion.”

There are approximately 772,000 undocumented immigrants in Florida. Migration Policy Institute; About half have lived in the United States for more than ten years. Under a bill moving through Florida’s GOP-led legislature, giving those people a ride to school or church would be a felony and face trafficking, with violators facing jail time.

Last month, evangelicals in Florida protested the idea, saying it would criminalize their preaching work.

in press release In a statement Thursday, Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski echoed that criticism, accusing Florida Republicans of playing state-level politics with a federal issue.

The bill, SB 1718, “expands the definition of ‘human smuggling’ and criminalizes ‘conciliation,'” Wenski said. If passed, he argued that if passed, the requirement would require hospitals to check the immigration status of people they treat, Wenski said, “It will discourage immigrants from seeking timely medical care and ultimately hospital emergencies.” They load classes,” he argued.

He added: “The sponsors of this bill want to express their frustration with the immigrants through various punitive measures that unfairly demonize them and make their lives more difficult.”

A spokesman for DeSantis, a self-proclaimed Catholic advocate for the Christian faith, did not respond to a request for comment.

It’s not the first time DeSantis and Florida Republicans have bashed the Catholic Church. In February, the Florida Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s bishops, told Insider it opposes the DeSantis-led push to expand the death penalty. A pending bill would allow a convicted felon to be executed even if a jury opposes it, according to conference executive director Michael Sheedy.Deeply about.”

The Church accused DeSantis of persecution. In the year In February 2022, Archbishop Wenski took issue with DeSantis’ speech on unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border, accusing the speech of being inhumane and arbitrarily separating them from Cuban immigrants who had previously come to Florida.

“This was a new low in our era of divisive zero-sum politics,” Wensky said. “Children are children – and no child should be considered ‘disgusting’ – especially by a public servant.”

But DeSantis showed no sign of responding to the criticism. At the time, Wensky had previously commented, then a spokesman for DeSantis. Christina Pushau, began to attack. “Catholics should not support illegal immigration or people smuggling,” she wrote on Twitter.

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