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Transcript: Miami Mayor Francis Suarez on "Face the Nation," May 21, 2023

Miami mayor on migrant crisis
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez says some of Florida's new immigration laws are "headline grabbing" 08:26

The following is the transcript of an interview with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez that aired on "Face the Nation" on May 21, 2023.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Miami and its mayor, Republican Francis Suarez. Welcome back to the program. I want to ask you about what is happening with the migrant crisis in this country. Is your city receiving enough support from both the state and the federal government?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ: Well, we haven't received any support as of yet from the federal government that we are aware of. We checked to see if we had gotten any help from FEMA, it turns out we have not. It is a migrant crisis in our city as well. Just in the last two months, the Coast Guard has processed 408 migrants in our- on our coast. We've- just last year in our public school system, we had over 14,000 new children, 10,000 of which came from, you know, four countries of- of Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Haiti. And that's the equivalent of five new 2000-student schools. And that's a tremendous burden on our system. And I'm, you know, I'm- I'm- I'm actually quite proud of- of Mayor Adams from New York for standing up and talking about how this is impacting the- the- the city of New York. I mean, he has to focus on- on crime reduction. And instead, you know, you see images of police officers helping people in the- the classic Roosevelt Hotel find housing. And so, you know, these officers should be, and you'd want them to be, focused on- on reducing crime and instead have to deal with this migrant crisis, which as you've said, should be a federal issue.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about what's happening at the state level, because Florida did just pass, and your Governor Ron DeSantis, signed into law, a new policy as of February that will make it a felony to knowingly and willfully transport an undocumented person, even if it's a family member. I know the Miami Dade Police Department said they are not planning on pulling over drivers. What are you going to instruct Miami Police Department to do?

MAYOR SUAREZ: Well, you know, we- we- we don't get involved in- in federal issues like that, you know, we pull over people for--


MARGARET BRENNAN: Well it's a state law.

MAYOR SUAREZ: Yeah, we pull over people for- for- for state- for- for traffic infractions and things of that nature, we don't usually get involved in the federal immigration system, we never have as a city. And I don't- I don't believe that we plan to in the future. So that- that- that doesn't really apply to the city of Miami. It's- it never has, and, you know, I think they're gonna use from what I understand, the Florida Highway Patrol, which is the- the state controlled police department, to- to enforce that law.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's also going to require businesses to verify that employees can legally work in the U.S., it's going to require hospitals to include citizenship questions on intake forms. Is there going to be an impact on your city? There's concerns about labor shortages, for example.

MAYOR SUAREZ: Well, you know, first of all, I think it is already illegal to hire an undocumented worker in the United States of America. So I'm not sure if that changes much the current law or the current state of the law. In terms of how it impacts the city of Miami, you know, we have a 1.8% unemployment rate, which is fantastic. When you want to open up a new business, definitely we need workers. And I think, you know, this entire debate and discussion screams for a national solution. And I think that's what we should be focused on as a country, solving this problem in a way that, you know, it, A, right sizes legal immigration, so that we can have Americans that want to work and that are working legally.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Am I hearing you say that some of these state laws are just theater? Because you're saying a lot of these things don't actually, practically, apply.

MAYOR SUAREZ: Yeah, I think- I think some of them are headline grabbers without a doubt. And then some of them--


MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that what your governor- governor is doing? Intentionally?

MAYOR SUAREZ: I think- I think- I think you could argue that for sure. I think- I think some of them are substantive, for example, he's sending 1000 law enforcement officers to the border at the request of the governor of Texas. You know, I think that- that that's something that could have a- a positive impact and interdicting, and helping, you know, with people who are on the terrorist watch list, and they've catched, you know, people who are smugglers and coyotes, so that- that can be helped. And you have to be careful with that as well. Because you know, we are on the eve of hurricane season. So you have to- you have to make sure that the resources that are being used are resources, you know, that we can deploy here in the state of Florida if we need them as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. I want to continue our conversation on the other side of a commercial break here because I know you are considering, and you have said you might run for president, so I have a lot more questions for you. So we'll be right back with a lot more "Face the Nation." Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to "Face the Nation." We continue our conversation now with Miami's Mayor, Francis Suarez. So, Sir, when will you announce you're running for President?

MAYOR SUAREZ: Well, it- it's got to be soon. Because the first debate is August 20th. I'm someone who needs to be better known by this country. And so I think the Republican Party has said, that there's going to be a debate a month from August, all the way through January 8th, which is the Iowa Caucus. So you have to take every opportunity to share your story, to share your vision, and to try to inspire the American people to choose what you're trying to- to offer them. So I think it would have to be soon, in order to make the debate stage, there's a couple of criteria that you have to follow. One of them is- is, you have to be at least 1% in the polls, which I think shouldn't be a problem. And secondly, you have to have 40,000, unique, individual contributions. And that takes a little bit of time. So the- the clock is ticking. It's a soul searching process with my family. And every single day we talk about it, my wife and I, and we're getting much, much closer to making a final decision.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That sounds like the only word you're not saying is yes, but you're leaning in pretty heavily there. Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway was- was quoted as saying, you'd be among the best possible draft picks as a running mate for President Trump. Would you join a ticket with him?

MAYOR SUAREZ: Look, it's flattering to be in any discussion for the vice presidency or the presidency. You know, I was- my parents came to this country at 12 and 7 from Cuba, exiled from their country of birth. I never thought in a million years that I would ever be on "Face The Nation" with you, talking about the possibility of running for president. I think that demonstrates the greatness of this country, that this country provides opportunities to everyone who cares about the American dream. That's how I've grown up, you know, growing up as a- as a citizen of this country.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but you've also said that the country is looking for someone who is aspirational and inspirational, not divisive. Is Donald Trump a unifier? Would you stand with him on a ticket?

MAYOR SUAREZ: What I've said is that I'm aspirational and inspirational. And that if I do run for president, people should vote for me, because I represent something different. And I can appeal to a different segment of our country, which is, you know, voters under 30, that Biden won by 26 points, people in cities, that I won my city by 86%, and was reelected by 80%. And Hispanics, as- as a Hispanic American, I think it's important to be able to connect with a voting demographic that's growing, and that's trending more Republican, but, that's happen--


MARGARET BRENNAN: Let me ask you- yeah, let me ask you on that, though, is- there was some reporting in your local papers about your job and side job that you hadn't disclosed. Will you release your tax returns if you run for president?

MAYOR SUAREZ: Of course, and I have to disclose all the jobs that I have. It really shouldn't matter how many jobs I have, what should matter is how I do my primary job, which is being the mayor of Miami, and nobody criticizes that. I'm also the president of all the mayors in the United States. You know, we- our success story in Miami is very, very incredible. You know, we've lowered taxes to the lowest level in history and grown 12%, the second most in recorded history. We have the lowest per capita homicide rate since 1964. And this year, we're 40% below that number. You know, and- and we are number one in the nation and wage growth and number one in unemployment. So I don't know why my local paper is obsessed with how many jobs I do. I think they should be focused on the job of being mayor which I think I do a great job. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Well, Mr. Mayor, we look forward to talking to you about the job you might be seeking in the future. We'll be right back.

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