Groups warn immigrants about traveling in Florida
MIAMI — Fifteen advocacy groups issued a warning about traveling in Florida on Wednesday saying immigration arrests here have soared more rapidly in the past year than in any other area of the country.
Leaders from immigrant rights and nonprofit orga- nizations said new cooper- ation between Immigration and Customs Enforcement and 17 Florida sheriffs is also spreading fear in the state.
The travel advisory warns immigrants from other states to reconsider Florida trips or to be ready to encounter immi- gration agents at airports, sea ports and bus stations.
“We are taking the step of warning our communities that as the Florida lawmak- ers, state, local and federal, do not take steps to push back against the anti-immigrant policies, we do not feel like our communities are safe in the state,” said Tomas Kennedy, deputy political direc- tor at the Florida Immigrant Coalition.
The advisory comes as Flor- ida braces for its busy spring break season in March, when its beach resorts and theme parks attract millions of peo- ple. The government estimated more than 4 million travelers from Canada and other coun- RIVIERA BEACH — They met tries arrived from January to online, authorities said: She, March in 2017, compared with the 15-year-old with even almost 27 million visitors who younger friends; he, the came from other states. 33-year-old more than old
Activists staged rallies across enough to buy them alcohol. the state Wednesday, includThey rendezvoused last ing at Greyhound bus stations month at a Starbucks near — where at least two recent the group home where she Border Patrol arrests of pas- lived with other young teens, sengers were caught on cell- she told Riviera Beach police. phone videos. Federal lawmak- Then they drove to his home ers have demanded a review on the south side of the city of searches and seizures in for a week of sex and liquor. the 100-mile zone near borThat man, Sergio Brown, ders and coasts. was arrested last week on two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with a minor for reportedly sexually assaulting two teens. As of Wednesday morning, he remained in the Palm Beach County Jail on $200,000 bail.
The 15-year-old told Riviera Beach police she and a few of her friends drank at Brown’s home Jan. 19. They stopped back at their residence, then she and two teens returned the next day to Brown’s home. The 15-year-old said she didn’t — and couldn’t — leave until Jan. 26. She told authorities that Brown raped her at least twice, and that when she tried to scream or run away, Brown said he’d choke her.
The age of sexual consent in Florida is 18. No one under the age of 16 can give consent under any circumstances.
The two other teens, 14 and 17, told police they engaged in sexual activities with Brown and another man as well. They said Brown was aware of how young they were. However, at least one of the teens disputed the 15-year-old’s story of being held hostage by Brown, saying she had been with another man that week.
A man who lived in the building told authorities he saw naked girls in the apartment. They appeared to be intoxicated, he told police. Brown asked the man if he wanted to have sex with them. He told police he said no.
Sergio Brown, 33, is accused of sexually assaulting two teens.