Florida’s Farmworkers & Faith Leaders Denounce Congressman Yoho and Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Symbolic and Shameful Anti-Immigrant Actions
Gainesville, FL – On Thursday, December 4th, the US House of Representatives passed a bill introduced by U.S. Representative Ted Yoho (R- FL3) to bar the President from deferring the deportation of undocumented Americans through the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program. As if that weren’t enough, late Friday the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that the Sunshine State was joining a lawsuit against Obama’s executive action on immigration.
Both actions are a symbolic and shameful move to attack the administration’s program which would give temporary relief from deportation to nearly 5 million undocumented parents of US citizen children who have been here more than five years. The relief would imply they would get a work permit and thus, a drivers’ license, dramatically reducing their chance of being detained and separated from their children. It is estimated that less than 253,000 of over 600,000 undocumented immigrants in Florida who would potentially quality.
Rep. Ted Yoho represents wide agricultural areas of Florida, and in fact, sits on the Agriculture Committee. Agriculture is a $100 billion industry and employs nearly one million Floridians. Rep. Yoho should be well aware of the needs of our agricultural community for regularization of the status of immigrants who work for the farmers, as well as of the suffering of the many U.S. citizen children whose parents have not been able to change their status due to the repeated failures by the US Congress to fix our broken immigration system.
Tirso Moreno, from the Farmworker Association of Florida stated: “This is hypocritical considering that many undocumented Floridians are farmworkers who work from sun to sun doing the backbreaking work that sustains our economy. We feed not only Florida, we feed the nation. We do the hardest work at the lowest pay, and to add insult to injury, Rep. Yoho wants us to fear detention and deportation too? He should know better, as we have met with him repeatedly in pursuit of congressional action. This move and Bondi’s lawsuit are nothing but shameful, symbolic and hypocritical. They are going out of their way to harm Florida’s economy and families with this political posturing.”
Other constituent voices added similar messages for Rep. Yoho and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
“If you disagree with Obama’s action, write an immigration bill that has a chance of passing both houses,” says Samuel B. Trickey, representative for Westminster Presbyterian Church.
“The existing policy is breaking up families and separating parents and children. Where are your family values?,” says Miriam Elliott, representative for Emmanuel Mennonite Church.
“Congressman Yoho has been critical of the Goodlatte bill for farm labor. With his understanding of the needs of Florida farmers, why doesn’t he give us a bill that will be fair to growers and the mainly immigrant labor force who harvest our crops,” says Richard MacMaster from the Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice.
President Obama acted after years of pressure and well over 18 months after Congress failed to enact reforms despite having had a comprehensive bill that was passed in the Senate in June of 2013. His action has precedent through many past presidents, Democrats as well as Republicans. Florida’s poorest children will benefit from having their parents, who will now be able to work and drive without fear of deportation. Rep. Yoho’s and Pam Bondi’s actions do not represent the majority of Floridians, and are not in the best interests of Florida, which benefits economically from the work of immigrants.
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