Miami Archbishop Accuses DeSantis of Trying to ‘Criminalize Empathy’

Thomas Wenski, the Archbishop of Miami, recently bashed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for championing a state bill to control illegal immigration, which has been on the rise throughout the Biden presidency.

S.B. 1718 is currently under consideration by the Florida State Senate. As the New York Post summarized, it “would make it a felony to shelter, hire or transport illegal immigrants into or within Florida.”

Gov. DeSantis is a practicing Catholic and recently signed into law universal school choice and a bill protecting unborn children from abortion after six weeks of gestation.

The governor also supports the immigration enforcement bill. “With this legislation, Florida is continuing to crack down on the smuggling of illegal aliens, stopping municipalities from issuing ID cards to people here illegally, and ensuring that employers are hiring American citizens or those here legally,” DeSantis said in February.

Wenski, who has been the archbishop of Miami since 2010 and is the metropolitan archbishop of the entire state of Florida, accused the governor of not being “empathetic.”

The Archbishop said in a March 23 statement:

The bill would criminalize “empathy” by expanding the definition of “human smuggling.” Anyone offering a ride to an undocumented migrant from church, school or workplace could be charged with a third degree felony. Requiring hospitals to collect data on patients’ immigration status would discourage migrants from seeking timely medical care and would end up overburdening hospital emergency rooms.

The sponsors of this bill want to take out their frustrations on the migrants with various punitive measures that unfairly demonize them and gratuitously seek to make their lives even more difficult. Theirs and our frustrations could more productively be directed towards Washington by urging Congress to address much needed immigration reform.

Some Catholics, however, say that in fact it is the absence of the law enforcement that DeSantis is pursuing that has resulted in the worst atrocities being committed against migrants.

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NOTE: Archbishop Wenski is a member of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

TAKE ACTION: Contact Archbishop Wenski at or 305.757.6241 and let him know what you think.

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