SANFORD, FL – On Wednesday, April 5th, Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), in collaboration with Florida Rising and other grassroots organizations, did a day of action in South Florida, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Central Florida, and Hillsborough to fight back against inhumane, anti-immigration policies and practices impacting 4.3 million Floridians.
Lawmakers in Tallahassee are discussing legislation (HB 1617 / SB 1718) that may destroy what Florida is for 4.3 million refugees and immigrants from around the world – specifically countries throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America. For over half a century, the Sunshine State has thrived as the land of hope, liberty, and possibilities for countless migrants searching for economic opportunity, democracy, and safety. So much so one in five residents in Florida are immigrants, making Florida one of the most densely populated immigrant states, with 57.4% of immigrants identifying as Hispanic or Latino.
"The freedom to migrate remains a fundamental human right. This is a country built by immigrants. We hear that over and over again. However, our politicians seem to remember it according to the moment and their convenience. That is why today I want to remind you that we live in a State that is sustained thanks to the contribution of many of that people , let us not forget that supermarkets are filled with the effort of many undocumented people who work around the clock, most of them in crass exploitation conditions. I am the mother of a 17-year-old girl whose schoolmates are undocumented and we live in an apprehensive way and on top of of each name, each story because they are human beings with the same right as others to achieve their own dreams", said Yohima Aguilar, Florida Rising Member.
Speakers highlighted how these bills which demonize communities and pit Floridians against one another make all of us less safe in the long run.
“The anti-immigrant bill being pushed through the Florida legislature is devastating to our communities. When we impose measures such as not recognizing licenses from other states, among others, we are practically criminalizing thousands of people in our communities simply for existing. La Mesa Boricua de Florida embraces our brothers and sisters and repudiates these measures that contribute nothing to a better quality of life in our state of Florida.,” stated Maria Revelles, co-Director with La Mesa Boricua de Florida.
As legislators consider these bills, attendees reminded them that their constituents are watching and are ready to advocate against their unjust actions.
David Metellus with the Florida Immigration Coalition says one of the most concerning provisions is that it fines or suspends the licenses of businesses that knowingly hire an immigrant in the country illegally. "A lot of the workers that serve in the agricultural industry, they are undocumented, or they have different immigration statuses, and so when a similar bill was passed in Georgia, it devastated their agricultural industry,” Metellus said.