‘a day without immigrants’ protests in tampa, bay area
People from all over the Tampa Bay area, Florida, and the rest of the country took to the streets on Thursday for an event called “A Day Without Immigrants.”
People are protesting against a bill that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed that critics say is against immigration.
Back on May 10, DeSantis signed a broad immigration bill into law. Its goal is to stop people in the U.S. illegally from coming to the Sunshine State and to hold others in the state involved in illegal immigration accountable.
The governor said that SB 1718 does a lot of different things. For example, it makes it more important for businesses with more than 25 employees to use E-Verify, a federal system that checks if workers can legally work in the U.S.
“If you bring illegal immigrants into Florida on purpose, you could get up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine per offense,” the governor said in the past. “You can get a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison if you are caught transporting five or more illegal aliens or an unaccompanied illegal alien minor, or if you have been convicted of human smuggling before.
“At the end of the day, there wouldn’t be a problem with illegal immigration if there weren’t many people in our country who helped make it happen.”
People think that these steps are among the toughest any state has taken to stop illegal immigration.
For Thursday’s protest, many people in the area didn’t show up at construction sites or tomato fields, and dozens of restaurants, shops, and other small businesses didn’t open to show what they say could be the economic impact in Florida when the law goes into effect in July.
The people who set up the protest called it “A Day Without Immigrants.”
Protests were seen in Tampa, Plant City, Wimauma, and parts of Manatee and Sarasota counties. People were covered in Mexican, Honduran, and other North and Central American flags while holding signs that said “Deportations hurt families” and “Keep families together.”
Eli Aguilar said at a protest, “We just want to show our government and Florida, especially in Plant City where they grow fresh strawberries, that we’re not here to take people’s jobs.” “We’re here to work hard and do jobs for low pay that other people don’t want to do.”
The bill also increases the penalties for smuggling people and lets the Florida RICO Act be used to prosecute offenders, which DeSantis said was a recommendation from the statewide grand jury.
On Thursday, a spokesman for the governor’s office said that the new law is aimed at people who are not in the U.S. legally.
The press secretary for DeSantis’ office, Jeremy Redfern, said, “The media has been purposefully wrong about the difference between legal and illegal immigration to make this kind of outrage based on a false premise.” “Any business that takes advantage of the situation by hiring illegal immigrants instead of Floridians will be held responsible. Every country has the right to defend its borders on its own.”
Last month, the Latino civil rights group LULAC told Hispanics not to travel to the U.S. because the new law hurts immigrant communities and is morally wrong. Other civil rights groups, like the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign, have also issued travel advisories for Florida, saying that new laws and policies made by DeSantis and Republican lawmakers are “openly hostile towards African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals.”