For Immediate release: Feb 23, 2023

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Draconian Measures to Oppress Migrants Seeking Safety in Florida

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Draconian Measures to Oppress Migrants Seeking Safety in Florida

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

Tessa Petit, Executive Director of The Florida Immigrant Coalition says,

“Gov. DeSantis announced a cruel, anti-immigrant, and racist list of upcoming mandates. Gov. DeSantis and his legislature are once again using hate and heavy-handed use of government power to attack our vulnerable families, friends, and neighbors.  This is not just an immigrant issue.  This is a morality issue.  But most of all, this is a FREEDOM issue.  Some of Florida’s elected officials are not only going back on the State’s proud tradition of being a beacon of hope for families fleeing from life-threatening dangers. They are supporting a hate-filled agenda that will lead to fear, division, violence, discrimination, and a weakened Florida.  This is not who Floridians are.  This is not the Florida we want to live in. ”

Executive Director of Hope CommUnity Center, Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet comments,

“At Hope we serve a beautiful community and we have a lively group of youngsters who are eager to learn. With this dehumanizing anti-immigrant package, the Florida government will be ripping away the dreams of higher education for thousands of children in our state including a lot of the kids we serve. A less educated population doesn’t help anyone in our state.”

Oscar Londoño, Co-Executive Director of WeCount! commented,

“Today’s announcement by Ron DeSantis is a blatant attack on immigrant workers and their families designed to advance his fascist, anti-democratic agenda. Instead of addressing the real issues facing all working families in Florida, like low wages, housing unaffordability, and the rising costs of living, Ron DeSantis continues to stoke hate, undermine local governments, and criminalize our basic freedoms. His cruel and inhumane policies, if enacted by our State Legislature, would hurt our economy and our communities, and make Florida unsafe and unwelcoming for all of us.” 

Samuel Vilchez Santiago, Florida State Director for the American Business Immigration Coalition Action stated,

“I’m surprised the governor hasn’t proposed criminalizing undocumented people and those who employ them for eating, sleeping, and breathing—that’s how preposterously and cruelly restrictive this legislative package is. DeSantis’ draconian anti-human package does not only harm our state’s diverse communities but also our economy. Even Florida’s Republican-led legislature has yet to see clearly how this is going to harm everyday Floridians who are already struggling to make ends meet. It will lead to higher food costs, retired folks not being able to access the healthcare they need, and our housing prices continuing to skyrocket. It is as radical as it gets.”

Aurelie Colon Larrauri, Florida State Policy Advocate for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice says,

“Immigrants, especially people who are still navigating our complex immigration system, already face many barriers accessing healthcare. This proposal would exacerbate this, particularly by requiring hospitals to collect data on immigration status. Anti-immigrant rhetoric from those in power has a chilling effect on diverse communities by spreading a climate of fear, where the threat of detention, family separation and deportation discourages folks from seeking preventative or even life-saving care. Access to care should not depend on your migration status. Everyone should have access to quality, compassionate, and affordable healthcare. Immigrant justice is reproductive justice.”

Santra Denis, Executive Director, Miami Workers Center said,

“Every day, we at the Miami Workers Center, see the contributions immigrants and their children make in our state. Workers who are immigrants in particular have been the engine of many of the sectors in this state: caring for our children, our elderly, and our sick, keeping food on our tables, teaching our students, and ultimately keeping our state economically and culturally vibrant. Governor Desantis’ proposed legislation is an attack on our coworkers and neighbors and will create harmful conditions for our communities.”

Sadaf Knight, CEO of Florida Policy Institute (FPI) stated:More than 1 in 5 Floridians were born outside the United States. Immigrants have inherent worth, and their economic contributions are undeniable. Those without a documented status pay $600 million annually in state and local taxes. There are over 281,000 immigrants who pay tuition and fees at colleges in this state, and 36 percent of Florida’s small businesses are immigrant-owned. 

Gov. DeSantis' new anti-immigrant proposal would harm our communities and our state. Florida should be welcoming immigrants’ unique contributions, not vilifying people who call our state home.”

Jonathan Alingu, Executive Director of Central Florida Jobs With Justice commented,

“We want a Florida that’s welcoming, where we can work together to support new residents in our communities which is only a boost to our state. This is a place where we want to live comfortably and safely together no matter what we look like or what we have. Governor DeSantis, by introducing this villainous proposal, is removing our ability to create solutions that are meaningful and compassionate to working people across our state and push people out of their communities for awful political points. These actions show us that our voices as Floridians don’t matter when DeSantis’s political ambitions and those that benefit from his cruelty are aligned.”

Adelys Ferro, Executive Director of the Venezuelan American Caucus, said:

“Immigrants are the bone marrow of Florida, we build and make this state better, greater, and richer, every day. I am shocked, but not surprised, Governor DeSantis is determined to go as far as possible, with no limitations when it comes to humiliating and dehumanizing people who migrate in search of safety and opportunities. We, Venezuelans, know what a fascist looks like, we know what an authoritarian looks like, we know what hate looks like, and now Governor DeSantis is bringing all of those traits to our lives here in Florida. We will not be silent, we will not be quiet, we will fight back, and we won’t forget what he is doing to our communities”.

Ana Sofía Peláez, Executive Director of the Miami Freedom Project said,

“Not only is Governor DeSantis proposed legislation targeting immigrants an affront to the diasporic communities that made Miami the global city it is today, it threatens the fabric of private and public, secular and faith-based organizations that have been serving our communities for decades. As a Cuban-American, whose own family sought freedom and found refuge in South Florida, the proposed policies mirror the very authoritarian government we fled and have no place in a democratic system.”

Michi Ceard, of the Forida Student Power Network mentioned,

 “As Desantis released his anti-human, anti-immigrant proposal this morning, we are reminded of the 10-year fight to finally pass in-state tuition in 2014. The fight was not easy, yet young people mobilized to Tallahassee, shared their stories with legislators, and organized their communities with love. As we face the repeal of in-state tuition we will harness our power as immigrant youth to fight and not give up in the face of this challenge. As young people, we will educate, organize, and mobilize our peers to fight in Tallahassee as we witness the implementation of a white supremacist, fascist agenda at the state legislature.”

Andrea Mercado, Executive Director of Florida Rising said,

"DeSantis' proposed legislation is a direct attack on the diverse and thriving communities of immigrants in Florida. Whether people come here for employment and economic opportunity, to seek safety and asylum, or to reunite with family, we should be creating a state where all are welcome, safe, and healthy. DeSantis and his right-wing administration have instead chosen to stigmatize these communities and take away their rights. We oppose any legislation that strikes down safety and opportunity for Florida residents, no matter their"

Adriana Rivera