The Legislative Session ends, but the fight continues

We Are Florida

We Are Florida! Nou Se Florid! Somos Florida!

En Español Abajo

This week marks the end yet another aggressive legislative session, with the introduction of HB9/SB308 and HB45/SB212, two Trump-inspired anti-immigrant bills that threatened families in Florida. With the immense help of our members and allies, we fought back and won, showing that immigrants aren’t going anywhere, because We Are Florida!

We continue to prove that immigrants are a driving force in our state and that, together, we have the power to fight back. Thank you to the hundreds of fearless families, farmworkers, faith leaders, students and community members who called their legislators and mobilized to Tallahassee to share their stories. We learned, we cried, we danced and, most importantly, we protected our communities.

We thank Senator Anitere Flores, Senator Rene Garcia and Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez for standing up for our community and and coming out publicly against these bills, making it impossible for them even move through the Senate committee. We also thank our champions in the House, including including Reps. Al Jacquet, Amy Mercado, Carlos Smith and many others who stood up in committee meetings and on the House Floor to defend immigrant families and our local governments.

It has been an honor to work with every single one of you, and now that legislative session is behind us, we ask you to stay engaged with in the fight by connecting with our organizers. We are in a pivotal moment that requires strengthening our base and building a broad coalition of advocates dedicated to protecting our communities

Contact your local organizers:

Julio Calderon, South Florida: sflteam@floridaimmigrant.org
Pamela Gomez, Tampa: pamela@floridaimmigrant.org
Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez, Orlando: isabelsousa@floridaimmigrant.org

En Español

We Are Florida! Nou Se Florid! Somos Florida!

Este año marca otra sesión legislativa más agresiva, con la presentación de HB9 / SB308 y HB45 / SB212, dos proyectos de ley antiinmigrantes inspirados por Trump que amenazaron a las familias en Florida. Con la inmensa ayuda de nuestros miembros y aliados, luchamos y ganamos, demostrando que los inmigrantes no van a ninguna parte, ¡porque somos Florida!

Seguimos demostrando que los inmigrantes son una fuerza motriz en nuestro estado y que, juntos, tenemos el poder para defendernos. Gracias a los cientos de familias valientes, trabajadores agrícolas, líderes religiosos, estudiantes y miembros de la comunidad que llamaron a sus legisladores y se movilizaron a Tallahassee para compartir sus historias. Aprendimos, lloramos, bailamos y, lo más importante, protegimos a nuestras comunidades.

Agradecemos al Senador Anitere Flores, al Senador René García y al Senador José Javier Rodríguez por defender a nuestra comunidad y salir públicamente en contra de estos proyectos de ley, haciendo que sea imposible para ellos incluso avanzar a través del comité del Senado. También agradecemos a nuestros campeones en la Cámara, incluidos los representantes Al Jacquet, Amy Mercado, Carlos Smith y muchos otros que se pusieron de pie en las reuniones del comité y en el Piso de la Cámara para defender a las familias inmigrantes y nuestros gobiernos locales.

Ha sido un honor trabajar con cada uno de ustedes, y ahora que la sesión legislativa está detrás de nosotros, les pedimos que se mantengan involucrados en la lucha  conectándose con nuestros organizadores. Estamos en un momento crucial que requiere fortalecer nuestra base y construir una amplia coalición de defensores dedicados a proteger nuestras comunidades

Póngase en contacto con sus organizadores locales:

Julio Calderon, Sur de la Florida: sflteam@floridaimmigrant.org
Pamela Gomez, Tampa: pamela@floridaimmigrant.org
Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez, Orlando: isabelsousa@floridaimmigrant.org

File a late TPS re-registration while there’s still time!

Renew TPS Reminder

Time is running out to file a late re-registration of your TPS! Here’s what you need to know to renew.

Here are the Federal Register Notices with detailed instructions for TPS re-registration for each country. You will also need this letter to show that your current work permit was automatically extended and remains valid despite it’s current expiration date. Remember that you must file your I-821 re-registration (no fee) to keep your Temporary Protected Status protection up to date.

You have the option to pay to order a new work permit with an updated expiration date if you don’t want to carry one with an expired date by filing a I-765 and paying the $495 fees with a money order to the Department of Homeland Security.

Haiti Federal Register Notice

El Salvador Federal Register Notice

Honduras Federal Register Notice

Download a sample cover letter for your late re-registration.
Sample Late Re-registration Letter

 

Anti-immigrant bill passes House Committee in Florida

En Espanol

Today, the Florida House Judiciary Committee voted in favor (10-7) of anti-immigrant bill HB9, which aims to legalize racial profiling while punishing local municipalities for protecting its residents. Even though a similar bill approved in Texas earlier this year has received national backlash and constitutional concerns, Florida legislators moved forward to threaten public safety and undermine local democracy by bringing Trump’s anti-immigrant policies to our state.

The bill, which was intentionally assigned to only one committee, limiting the opportunities for public comment, and sparking outrage in the community, can be taken up for a final vote on the House floor as early as January 9th the first day of the 2018 Legislative session.

Diverse advocates, led by Immigrant families mobilized to Tallahassee and filled the chambers to give heart-felt testimonies against the immoral and unconstitutional bill. They now turn their eyes to the Senate where reason in years past has prevailed.

The following are statements in response:

“Today we see what the legislature is trying to do to our communities. This bills persecute immigrant families and immigrant communities. They also make local governments job harder when it comes to public safety,” said State Senator José Javier Rodriguez on a press conference after the vote. “This has to end. We need to refocus on actually doing things FOR our communities instead of persecuting them.”

“They want our labor, our tax contributions and our consumer dollars, but they don’t want to recognize us as people with families. Forcing local police and local governments to become immigration agents doesn’t help anyone. In fact, HB9 will force immigrants who are victims of crimes to remain silent out of fear, increasing the distrust between vulnerable communities and law enforcement,” said Tirso Moreno, General Coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida.”

“Our legislators don’t get tired of trying to criminalize immigrant workers and separate millions of families. But they know we won’t get tired either. We are Florida and we will never accept any attack to our diverse communities, we will always stand together to protect our families and, at the polls, we will remember who stood with us,” says Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

Since 2011, the We Are Florida campaign led by the Florida Immigrant Coalition has mobilized and successfully defeated all anti-immigrant and anti-refugee bills. Farmworkers, labor unions, students and workers from across the state have pledged to use their voice and power to once again put a stop to anti-immigrant bills that hurt us all.

 

FLORIDA HOUSE TO VOTE ON ANTI-IMMIGRANT BILL

Immigrant families and advocates mobilize to the state’s capitol to speak against anti-immigrant bill, House Bill 9, scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017. Vans will be departing from Hialeah in Miami, Tampa, and Orlando.

Despite the national backlash and constitutional concerns that Texas faced after proposing a similar bill, Florida legislators threaten public safety and undermine local democracy by attempting to bring Trump’s anti-immigrant policies to our state.

“It’s immoral that legislators elected to protect our children, year after year, continue to propose bills that criminalize immigrant workers who are their parents, and cold-heartedly separate families,” said Lourdes Villanueva from Redland Christian Migrant Association and Board Chair of the Florida Immigrant Coalition “HB 9 would have serious human cost but also an economic impact on local industry and municipalities as law enforcement, city or county officers, and even school and college employees are required  to report undocumented immigrants.”

For the 2018 legislative session, the bill was intentionally assigned to only one committee, limiting the opportunities for public comment on it and sparking outrage in the community, especially after several local governments have adopted policies to protect immigrant families from Trump’s deportation machine.  

“We are actively mobilizing and educating immigrants to become conscious and active citizens and voters. We must pay close attention to policies that undermine the power of local government and weaken our democracy.” said Broward County Commissioner Dale Holeness.

Since 2011, the We Are Florida campaign led by the Florida Immigrant Coalition has mobilized and successfully defeated all anti-immigrant and anti-refugee bills. Farmworkers, labor unions, students and workers from across the state have pledged to use their voice and power to once again put a stop to anti-immigrant bills that hurt us all.

5 Years of DACA and the Future of TPS

Courtesy: Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami

Last week marked the five-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, which grants protection from deportation to many young immigrants.  In the five years since the announcement of DACA, an estimated 95% of DACA youth and young adults  are either working or attending school, contributing to their local communities and the economy.

On Thursday, the White House announced it would continue to leave the program untouched, maintaining the existing protections from deportation for nearly 800,000 “DREAMers.” While we at the Florida Immigrant Coalition celebrate the news that these young people are receiving the security that should be afforded to them, we remain highly vigilant of our Haitian brothers and sisters who have not been afforded these similar and necessary protections.

Temporary Protective Status (TPS) grants individuals hailing from certain designated countries struck by natural disasters or armed conflict, such as Haiti, with authorization to remain legally in the United States. More than 58,000 Haitians are members of the program, after a disastrous earthquake ravished the island in 2011. TPS allows for recipients to remain in the U.S. with valid work permits until the unrest in their country of origin abates.

While TPS extensions are normally offered for 18 months, the Trump administration disappointingly took the unprecedented step to shorten the duration of their protected status for only another six months. This six-month extension is not enough. The country is currently facing the worst cholera epidemic in the world, with about 40,000 people living in tent homes and makeshift shelters, while facing steep economic and political turmoil.

We encourage the administration to acknowledge the unrealistic term given to Haitian recipients, who are working and making a tangible contribution to our community and economy. Furthermore, we recognize that DACA and TPS fail to provide a plan toward legal integration of these communities to the this country where they have invested so much of their lives, skills, and dreams. True comprehensive immigration reform should comprise a pathway for these communities to realize their full potential as they advance toward citizenship.

Speak to your federal representative today and ask them what they are doing to #SaveTPS 202-224-3121.

VICTORY! All 9 anti-immigrant bills are defeated in Florida!

Haz click aqui para leerlo en espanol.

Florida’s Legislative sessions comes to an end as Immigrant rights advocates celebrate the defeat of all anti-immigrant and anti-refugee bills proposed. The 2017 session marks one of the most aggressive sessions with 9 Trump-Inspired bills ranging from the criminalization of immigrant by raising the penalties solely based on the person’s immigration status, to punishing city and counties for wanting to protect all of their residents.

March 8th, 2017- Over 200 women from across the state mobilize to Tallahassee for International Women’s Day in demand of health, dignity and justice.

The We Are Florida! campaign led by the Florida Immigrant Coalition and its members maintained constant presence, mobilizing hundreds of community members to the state’s capitol to remind legislators of the collective power of immigrants, workers, women and LGBT members .

“In a moment where hatred and discrimination is being normalized, our immigrant, Muslim and communities of colors stood together fighting back nine bills seeking to criminalize our families and legalize racial profiling in Florida,” said Francesca Menes, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “Time and time again, we see our very own Latino State Representatives selling out their own voters and supporting hateful legislation which has been legally challenged on constitutional grounds, and the courts continue to affirm local governments not being required to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.”

FLIC members and allies from the Redland Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), WeCount!, Farmworkers Association of Florida (FWAF), Young American Dreamers (YAD), Farmworker Self-Help from 6 counties across the state took over the Capitol.

One of the most highly debated bills, HB697,  threatened local democracy by stripping power away from local governments to protect its residents, threatening to withhold state funding and forcing a state-wide ban of sanctuary cities. The final party-line vote of 76 in favor to 41 against happened just days after a court blocked Trump’s executive order to withhold funds from Sanctuary Cities.  

“We find hypocritical for Latino legislators to claim to be proud of their heritage while allowing anti-immigrant legislation to progress in the state legislature and they will be held accountable,” said Daniel Barajas, Executive Director for the Young American Dreamers. “YAD continues to stand with other organizations across the state as we show these elected officials that our communities are not alone, and we’ll help them fight for the American dream.”

“It is good news that anti-immigrant bills did not pass this session but that does not excuse those representatives that voted for HB 697 in the House. We will remember, and continue the fight to recognize the full human rights of the immigrant community,” said Miguel Bernal, Vice President of WeCount! and FLIC board member.
Organizations involved in the We Are Florida! Campaign, pledged to work to educate and mobilize voters to ensure legislators closely reflect the needs of their communities.

 

2017 We Are Florida Legislative Report

The We Are Florida! campaign report is now available.  Click HERE to read the full report.

During the 2017 Florida Legislative Session over 9 anti-immigrant and anti-refugee bills were introduced. Within several of days of entering office, the 45th President, Trump signed executive orders on increasing border security, increasing interior immigration enforcement, threatening to withhold federal funding from states and localities who do not enforce federal immigration laws, and a Muslim travel ban. In Florida, House Bill (HB) 697 and Senate Bill (SB) 786, which were filed by Representative Larry Metz and Senator Aaron Bean, made similar attempts targeting “sanctuary jurisdictions,” threatening to withhold state funds from municipalities, remove elected officials from office, and enforce daily penalties upwards of $5,000 for localities who do not repeal their “sanctuary” policies.

This session, with the support of coalition members, allies and through grassroots advocacy efforts, We Are Florida! successfully defeated all nine anti-immigrant and anti-refugee bills that attempted criminalize immigrants in Florida and separate our families. This report provides an overview of the bills that the We Are Florida! campaign worked on during the 2017 Legislative Session in conjunction with Florida Immigrant Coalition, its members and allies.  Click HERE to read the full report. 

Florida Sheriffs keep focus on Public Safety, not Immigration Enforcement

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The Florida Sheriff’s Association statements on April 4th, 2017 addressing the weekly list issued by the Trump administration of law enforcement agencies that have rejected Immigrant Detainer requests made by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,  correctly keep their focus on public safety and not immigration enforcement.  In their own words:

“Sheriffs have to follow the law. And we are being asked to do something by the federal government that at least nine – nine – federal courts have said we can’t do,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said

“We support and cooperate with ICE with their efforts to identify and deport criminal aliens,” Orange County Sheriff and FSA president, Jerry Demings concluded. “However, we also swear under oath to protect, support and defend the U.S. Constitution. And that really is what we sheriffs intend to do.”

In response, Jill Hanson, J.D., Board Chair for the Florida  Immigrant Coalition  stated:

“The Department of Homeland Security does not have the legal authority to force local law enforcement agencies to illegally hold immigrants that otherwise would be free to return to their families. We are glad to see the Florida Sheriffs Association take a clear stand.

ICE Detainer requests are unconstitutional–period. They have been challenged in courts across our nation and most recently ruled as unconstitutional by a local judge in Miami. Florida Sheriffs are the latest in the growing voices clearly saying they won’t be intimidated into becoming a pawn for Trump’s immoral and costly mass deportation force.

Immigrant families need to know that they are safe to report a crime, whether they are the victim or a witness, and have the reassurance that cooperating with law enforcement will not lead to their family being torn apart.“

Faith and Community Leaders Urge President Trump to Renew (TPS) for Haitians

After a 7 point magnitude earthquake killed 250,000 people in Haiti and quasi destroyed Haiti’s infrastructure on January 12, 2010, President Obama approved Temporary Protected Status (TPS ) for Haitians to allow them to stay in the U.S and to help Haiti recover. Over 6 years later, Haiti has yet to recover. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew wrecked havoc in the country. More than 700 people were killed, and the entire South peninsula was destroyed. Most of the crops were wiped out, resulting in a serious case of food insecurity and daily deaths as a result of severe malnutrition. Haiti is also still struggling to recover from the world’s most significant imported cholera outbreak, with an estimated 30,000 cases expected this year, as well as the effects of the January 2010 earthquake, with tens of thousands of people still camping in tents without proper sanitation.

“TPS is up for renewal on July 22, 2017 and 50,000 anxious Haitians are holding their breath as they await the decision by the Department for Homeland Security (DHS). It is sad because in addition to worrying about the horrible situation of famine in Haiti, now family members in the U.S. are basically dying of fright, wondering what the Trump administration will do about TPS. Haiti is in no condition to absorb immigrants from the U.S. right now,” said Marleine Bastien, Executive Director of FANM (Haitian Women of Miami).

Extending TPS for another 18 months is in the United States’ national interest because on top of a multitude of problems – cholera, Hurricane Matthew aftereffects, years of political instability and turmoil – it would destabilize Haiti to deport 58,000 people and, in doing so, also instantly cut off remittances to hundreds of thousands of loved ones in Haiti. Haiti is in no position either to safely absorb an additional 58,000 persons, nor to make up for the remittances that would be curtailed.

Due to a plethora of natural disasters that have struck Haiti over the last few years and current political instability in the country, the S. Florida community will come together to urge President Trump to address the country’s growing humanitarian crisis and renew T.P.S.

West Palm Beach Shows True Courage with Resolution Welcoming Immigrants and Refugees

On March 27, 2017, the West Palm Beach City Council will be issuing a resolution to demonstrate its commitment to welcoming immigrants and refugees, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity and country of origin.

Jill Hanson, Board member of the Florida Immigrant Coalition and the Palm Beach County Coalition for Immigrant Justice, released the following statement:

“West Palm Beach has taken a courageous first step in making immigrants feel welcome, showing that the City Commission is willing to do what it takes to protect West Palm Beach families from living in constant fear. With this resolution, West Palm Beach is putting the safety of our communities ahead of politics and we are thankful to the City Commission and Mayor Jeri Muoio for their leadership.”

Afifa Khaliq, communications director at SEIU FPSU, added, “We urge all the cities and counties in South Florida, and across the state, to stand firm against any threats to our vibrant immigrant communities. This is not the time to crumble and give in to questionable executive orders that may not even be constitutional. Thankfully, West Palm Beach is proving resilient against this toxic wave of hateful rhetoric. We applaud their bravery on this day and look forward to their next steps in the fight to welcome and protect all West Palm Beach residents.”

The decision by West Palm Beach officials to support immigrant families, regardless of status, comes on the heels of similar votes of support by leaders in Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg and Broward County.

This resolution is in sharp contrast to Miami-Dade County, where County Commissioners agreed with Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s decision to capitulate to President Donald Trump’s Executive Order mandating that localities hold undocumented immigrants for the federal government at taxpayer expense.