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  • Rhenie Dalger

Over 300 Floridians Gathered in the Capitol to Oppose Bills That Would Harm Immigrant Families

Anti-immigrant legislation—SB 168/HB 527—drew over 300 hundred immigrant youth, families, agricultural workers, faith leaders, educators,and allies to Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — During the 2019 legislative session, Floridian families are under threat from SB 168 and HB 527, legislation that would strip the civil liberties of millions of U.S. citizens and immigrants, promote racial profiling, separate families, and devastate Florida’s economy. In response, over 300 Floridians from all over the state came to Tallahassee from March 25-26 to not only oppose harmful legislation, but to promote pro-immigrant legislation like SB 1358/HB 969, which makes Florida’s roads safer, increases state revenue, and cements trust in law enforcement while protecting vulnerable immigrant families by granting them access to a driver's license.

Business leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement have all joined the chorus of immigrant families and supporters in speaking out against this bill. State Sen. Victor M. Torres, Jr., a former police officer, wrote in the Miami Herald that “SB 168 insults Florida’s history as a state that welcomes immigrants” and called it “a dangerous family-separation bill that marginalizes our immigrant neighbors.” Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina threatened to quit if SB 168 passed and said he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if he had to “check where someone came from before helping them.” As business leader Paul DiMare, co-chair of the Immigration Partnership & Coalition Fund and Chief Executive Officer and President at DiMare Fresh, Inc., wrote in the Miami Herald on Sunday, “This legislation is a direct threat to Florida’s warm and welcoming reputation and will deliver negative consequences for years to come.”

Nataly Chalco, DACA recipient and youth leader of United We Dream Florida:

“As a college student, all I should be worried about right now is passing my exams and picking my classes at Florida State the next semester, but I’m worried about these anti-immigrant and racial profiling bills that would personally affect me and my family. I joined immigrant families and our allies at the Capitol today to speak directly to Republican leaders in our state legislature. I’m here to ask them to open their eyes and see that our families are no different than theirs, to see that we deserve to live without fear. I’m asking Republican leaders to be brave and reject this bill of hate and Governor DeSantis’ plan to make our state unsafe for immigrants and instead stand with families like mine.”

This is a critical moment of increased fear and anxiety for all communities of color, especially immigrants and refugees. Every 1 in 5 Florida residents is an immigrant, with more than 2 million voters in the state. Florida’s immigrant and African-American voters will turn out in force in the coming years, and we are closely watching what lawmakers are doing to protect our communities during this legislative session. We Are Florida has endorsed and opposed the following legislation:


HB 527/SB 168: Anti-immigrant Local Preemption - Forces government officials to collaborate with ICE, leading to break up and deportation of immigrant families at unprecedented levels. There is no protection for people reporting crimes, such as women calling police due to domestic violence. This bill has been called “a direct threat to Florida’s warm and welcoming reputation” and it could make immigrant communities “significantly less likely to report criminal activity and to cooperate with law enforcement.” (Sponsors: Representative Cord Byrd, Senator Joe Gruters, Senator Aaron Bean)

HB 89/SB 164: Verification of Employment Eligibility - Mandates all employers use the error-prone E-Verify system for all new employees (Sponsors: Representative Thad Altman, Senator Aaron Bean)

SB 162: Reentry Into the State by Certain Persons - Prevents anybody who’s ever been deported from entering Florida (Sponsor: Senator Joe Gruters)


HB 457/SB 1234: Student Eligibility Requirements for State Financial Aid Awards and Tuition Assistance Grants - Expands scholarship and financial aid eligibility to DACA and TPS recipients (Sponsors: Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, Representative Fentrice Driskell, Senator Annette Taddeo)

HB 969/SB 1538: Driver Licenses and Identification Cards - Would allow immigrants, regardless of immigration status, to apply for a driver’s license and state IDs (Sponsors: Representative Dotie Joseph, Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez)

HB 1303/SB 1566: Florida Trust Act - Would rebuild trust and local autonomy in our communities by cutting ties between local law enforcement and federal Immigration Customs Enforcement (Sponsors: Representative Al Jacquet, Senator Victor M. Torres, Jr.)

HB 1137: Nonenforcement of Immigration Detainers and Nonjudicial Immigration Warrants - Limits potential cooperation with local police and federal immigration enforcement (Sponsor: Representative Cindy Polo)

SB 1538: Heat Illness Prevention - Protects farmworkers, construction workers, and others from extreme heat conditions (Sponsors: Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, Senator Victor Torres)

HB 49/SB332: Dignity for Incarcerated Women - Provides incarcerated and detained women with access to health products and adds safety requirements when interacting with male guards (Sponsors: Representative Shevrin Jones, Representative Amy Mercado, Senator Jason Pizzo)


We Are Florida is a statewide coalition of community advocates, religious leaders, service providers, unions and nonprofits dedicated to defending the rights of immigrant families across Florida.

Please Contact: Melissa Taveras,, 786.663.6690 or 786.956.0352, Elizabeth Fernandez,, 786.956.2079, Bruna Sollod,, 202-850-0812

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