More than a thousand people, mostly Latino families with children, participated on Saturday in a march in rejection of the immigration law that will take effect in July in Florida, whose promoter is Governor Ron DeSantis, who aspires to compete for the White House in 2024.
The "unity march" took to the streets of downtown Homestead, a South Florida city about 37 miles from Miami with a large community of Central American and Mexican farmworkers.
Migrants protesting in Homestead, Florida, on May 27, 2023.CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH / EFE
In one stage, protesters gathered in a square in front of the municipal government headquarters with signs reading "Our economy depends on immigrants," "I am a worker, not a criminal" and "We produce for the wealth of this country."
Community leaders and religious representatives spoke there in defense of the "dignity of migrants," and to explain the scope of SB 1718 and the risks it poses to undocumented migrants from Florida.
[Black, Latino, immigrant and LGBTQ advocacy groups urge people to stay away from Florida]
According to various sources, there are about 800,000 undocumented immigrants in a state of 21.5 million people.
"We want the community's resistance to SB 1718 to be visible, regardless of whether it is challenged in the courts and in political arenas," said Oscar Londoño of We Count! (We count), the convening organization.
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The new law not only punishes companies that employ undocumented immigrants with heavy fines, but also family members or others who help them, does not recognize licenses to drive vehicles issued by more benevolent states and forces medical centers to ask about the immigration status of a patient to be registered.
Pro-immigrant organizations and the Florida Democratic Party have criticized the law, one of the harshest in the country, not only for the suffering it brings to Florida's undocumented people, but for the effects on the state's economy and especially agriculture, tourism and construction.
[Farmworkers fear DeSantis' new immigration law. But also their employers: "Who's going to harvest?"]
"We are already hearing from people who have decided to leave or are planning to do so for fear of being detained and deported and losing everything they have built here. Employers are also very worried, because they are losing their employees," Londoño said.
DeSantis, who officially registered this week his candidacy for the primaries in which the candidate for the White House of the Republican Party will be chosen in 2024, has made it clear in his first interviews that the immigration issue will be central to his campaign.