By DANIEL KOZIN (Associated Press)
IMMOKALEE, Fla. (AP) — In Florida, workers did not show up Thursday at construction sites or tomato fields, and many restaurants, stores and other small businesses never opened their doors to protest against a new state law that places restrictions on undocumented immigrants. immigrants
Organizers called the protest “a day without immigrants.”
In the Orlando area, dozens of protesters, including some driving trucks with small construction cranes, rallied at a busy intersection outside the office of a state lawmaker who had championed the law.
In Immokalee, an area in southwest Florida known for its tomato fields, hundreds of protesters, many with families, marched two miles around the city, chanting and carrying signs.
In Fort Lauderdale, opponents of the law chanted slogans and waved flags in front of Isis Cordova’s Latino restaurant, which was closed in protest.
“I managed to obtain a legal status in this country, and I said one day when I have documents I will raise my voice. I’m also going to speak for those people who don’t have a voice,” Cordova said. “Because I know what it’s like to be in these shoes on the other side, with that fear and living in the shadows.”
Legislation Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law last month strengthens his immigrant resettlement program and limits social services for immigrants who lack permanent legal status. It also expands the requirements for businesses with more than 25 employees to use E-Verify, a federal system that determines whether employees can legally work in the U.S. Another provision requires hospitals that accept Medicaid to include a citizenship question in admission forms, something critics have said. is intended to discourage immigrants living in the US illegally from seeking medical care.
Last month, the Latino civil rights group LULAC issued a travel advisory for Hispanics, warning that the new law marginalizes immigrant communities and is immoral. Other civil rights groups, including the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign, have also issued travel advisories for Florida, saying the new laws and policies by DeSantis and Republican lawmakers are “openly hostile to African-Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people.” ”.
DeSantis launched a campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination last week.
A spokesman for the governor’s office said Thursday that the new law targets illegal immigration, not those who are in the United States legally.
“The media has been deliberately inaccurate about this distinction between legal and illegal immigration to create this type of outrage based on a false premise,” said Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for DeSantis’ office. “Any business that exploits this crisis by employing illegal aliens instead of Floridians will be held accountable. Every country defends its borders with the sovereign right to do so.
Isaac Dubon, who owns a construction business in South Florida, said immigrants are important to Florida because they do jobs that others wouldn’t.
“We work a lot in this country, 15 or 16 hours straight without stopping,” Dubon said. “We went through a lot. We also pay taxes, like everyone else, and support the country’s economy.”
Associated Press writer Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida contributed to this report.