A Broward County woman filmed and allegedly harassed residents who sought help with citizenship applications at Lauderhill Mall this past Saturday, June 15. Janet Klomburg, a 57-year-old, avid Trump supporter from Weston, claimed the Florida Immigrant Coalition's citizenship clinic was an illegal effort by Democrats to turn the state blue.
"I wanted to see what was going on here. I have no problem with people becoming citizens and doing it the right way," Klomburg told New Times when contacted this morning. "[They are] doing it for one purpose: to overthrow Florida and the country, to turn the country into a socialist country."
Klomburg live-streamed her recordings on Facebook, telling her viewers, "This mall is filled with people taking citizenship classes from 50 different Caribbean countries. Right now, it looks like there are about 100 people. This is what the Democrats are doing to take Broward County... They all come in by buses. I want to get this across Florida — people need to see what is going on here."
When volunteers questioned why she was filming, Klomburg said she had a right to film in a public place and whispered to viewers that they should bail her out if she got arrested. During her nearly ten-minute live-stream, she claimed such citizenship clinics are part of a plot by former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum to turn the state blue — and that Brazilian company Odebrecht (which has been central to huge South American bribery scandals) is funding such efforts. "How this is all being funded— it's wrong," Klomburg tells New Times. "There is illegal funding here."
The face of hate. This white supremacist came to our citizenship clinic in Broward and terrorized permanent residents who are applying to become citizens. pic.twitter.com/ULmR4xaDip— Thomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) June 15, 2019
Says Laura Muñoz, volunteer manager for the Florida Immigrant Coalition: "The community was very shaken. She started coming and recording, making the people uncomfortable as they filled out their applications. [It] really put everyone in a place of fear... This is Lauderhill — majority folks of color — and you see this individual attacking people in their community."
For the past few years, FLIC, a Miami-based immigrant advocacy group, has partnered with various bar associations, Broward County Vice Mayor Dale Holness, and Congressman Alcee Hastings to host monthly citizenship clinics at Lauderhill Mall. The sessions provide prospective citizens with application assistance from immigration lawyers and specialists.
But Muñoz, who has been volunteering at the clinic since January, says she's never experienced anything like this before.
"For me, it was very startling," she says. "People walk by, give snarky comments saying something like, 'The illegal aliens are over here trying to sneak into our country and vote.' [But] this is the first time in my experience seeing something targeted in this way."
Klomburg's video garnered thousands of views and shares on Facebook, causing concern among volunteers that extremists might show up at the clinic to antagonize applicants. Some viewers commented on the post with calls for protests at the mall.
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"We were worried that others were going to show up and try to be violent," says Thomas Kennedy, political director of FLIC.
On Sunday, the clinic instituted a security plan in case a disturbance should arise. But FLIC members say a greater concern is that similar displays of hatred discourage immigrants from pursuing the naturalization process.
"People always say, 'Why don't these immigrants come here legally?' Kennedy comments. "It is very ironic that these are legal permanent residents going through the naturalization process and they are being harassed by, frankly, an insane lady who is trying to record them."
In November, the Miami Herald described Klomburg as one of the Republican protesters advocating the removal of Brenda Snipes after contested midterm elections. Klomburg claimed the election was "stolen from us" even though Republicans Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott ultimately beat out their Democratic opponents in the gubernatorial and senatorial races.