For Immediate release: Feb 24, 2023

Faith & Business Leaders Speak Up Against Governor DeSantis’ Draconian Measures That Will Oppress Migrants Seeking Safety in Florida

This goes against the tenants of their faith and Florida’s business interests.

FLORIDA – Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced an extensive legislative proposal to prevent immigrants’ access to health care, education, and criminalize any Floridian who transports or provides shelter to a broad category of immigrants. By creating harsh penalties for individuals and groups that support migrants and asylum seekers, easing the detention of people seeking safety including families, the elderly and children, requiring universal use of E-Verify, and prohibiting the issuance by local governments of ID cards that help to identify Floridian communities, DeSantis is leading the way in turning back the clock on human rights and descending us into a truly draconian state where residents live in fear of a government who overreaches into every corner of their lives, including their businesses and places of worship.

To see his full proposal, click here. To watch the full press conference, click here. 

Faith and business leaders today speak out against this package of draconian laws because they stand starkly opposed to what these measures would bring to their communities, places of business, and worship.

We encourage faith and business leaders who want to stand with us to sign on to this letter.

Mike Fernandez, Chair of MBF Healthcare Partners and American Business Immigration Coalition Action board member said,

“Construction, agriculture, hospitality, healthcare—we can’t even begin to count how many bread-and-butter work sectors these cruel and extreme measures would disrupt if they are passed. What might make DeSantis look good with the extreme right in a national presidential election bid is just about the most destructive and hurtful thing he could do to his own state.”

Reverend Dr. Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition stated,

“Immigrants, those who have regulated their status and those who are still navigating our complex immigration system, have made up the heart and soul of Florida for decades. They are our family members, neighbors, employers, employees, students, teachers, and faith leaders. They are so woven into daily life in this state that we’d unravel if they were blocked, held back, terrorized, and arrested at every turn for simply existing, which is exactly what will result from these policies. This is a cruel set of policies. It is certainly not what the Gospel teaches us about treating immigrants. No policy can stop the Church from being the Church. It’s part of our religious liberty.” 

Sister Ann Kendrick,  SNDdeN Co-Founder of Hope CommUnIty Center(HCC), Apopka, FL commented,

“HCC strongly opposes the attitude and method the Governor of Florida is taking to continue to terrorize migrant families in the State of Florida. Human Beings have a right to migrate to flee death, in search of conditions where they can find safe places to work, raise their families and be protected from violence and find adequate work to support themselves and their families. It is simply the values of our faith and of our common humanity to reach out and create welcoming conditions for desperate families who contribute to the well-being of this country with their hard work and whose gifts of cultural diversity bring to this country a blessing for all of us.

Ron DeSantis is making a mockery of the suffering of these immigrants. He must be stopped. We will continue to work for Justice, Peace and Human Kindness. Jesus was a liberator leading with Radical Love. Let's learn from him.”

Reverend Sarah Robinson, Vice President of Hope Community Center Board and Pastor of Audubon Park Church, Orlando, FL stated,

"While the governor continues his play for the national stage with a shock and awe strategy, his policies have and will harm real people, and harm Florida. They are profoundly un-Christian and anti-Biblical. I call on all Christians of this state and country to stand in support of immigrants, regardless of status, as fellow human beings and beloved Children of God. That is what Jesus would do. In this season of Lent, a time for repentance and self-reflection, I ask Gov. DeSantis to take stock and ask the question 'What would Jesus do?'"

The Reverend Dr. José Rodríguez, OSL, Vicar of Iglesia Episcopal Jesús de Nazaret, Azalea Park, FL said,

“The State of Florida is seeking to criminalize Christianity and the free exercise of religion. Many of the actions the State seeks to criminalize are basic outreach functions of most Christian churches and other faith communities. This is not only an attack on basic human decency and dignity but this is an attack on our religious liberties in the State of Florida. As a follower of Jesus I find it egregious that many Christian and faith based hospitals and shelters will have to violate the Biblical command to treat the foreigner among us as a citizen. No human is illegal but these acts make acting out one’s Christian faith illegal. We should be concerned about the State’s move to create a new category of person - the illegal Christian.”

David and Ada Rivera, Senior Pastors of Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal M.I. Tampa, FL said,

“The governor knows that the fastest growing church is the immigrant church. When he declares radical anti-immigrant mandates, he is declaring war against the church. We demand that the governor reconsiders these measures. In the meantime, our church community will continue to keep him and his family in our prayers.”

Adriana Rivera