The state of Florida is a major battleground in the national fight against a racist, anti-immigrant agenda, and with the culmination of the 2018 Florida Legislative Session, immigrant rights advocates are relieved that the worst anti-immigrant bills were defeated, including HB 9/SB 308 and HB 45/SB 212; however, with Florida experiencing the sharpest increase in immigration detentions in the country and with elected officials like Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran fueling xenophobia instead of protecting immigrant communities, there is still a long fight ahead.
Our representatives are officials elected to serve and protect, yet the Speaker of the Florida House and candidate for governor Richard Corcoran unleashed a widely denounced racist political ad where he cruely and falsely depicted immigrants as criminals, instead of hard-working members of our community. These malicious lies only deter from the truly troubling issues Florida is facing, including gun violence and assault weapons, healthcare, transportation, education and the decimation of the teachers union.
“This legislative session has come to its end and we are proud to say that once again, for the 7th year straight, we have defeated every piece of anti-immigrant legislation. This session saw a drastic increase in hostility toward immigrants, especially since Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran, who has made anti-immigrant legislation his priority, released an overtly racist political ad defaming immigrants and spreading lies about sanctuary city policies,” explained Julio Calderón, Campaign Manager for We Are Florida.
Outraged by his blatant racism, members of the We Are Florida campaign and other advocates from across the state, mobilized consistently for 8 weeks to block Corcoran’s agenda to target immigrants for deportation.
“Despite his efforts to spread hate across the state, we joined advocates across the state in successfully blocking his racist priorities. Now the work must continue. We will work closely with elected officials on the local level to continue protecting our communities and fighting for legislation to protect all Florida immigrants,” continued Calderón.
This session saw a drastic increase in hostility toward immigrants, especially since Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran, who has made anti-immigrant legislation his priority, released an overtly racist political ad defaming immigrants and spreading lies about sanctuary city policies.”
During this session, Florida had to contend with the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland. Brave high school students filled State Capitol’s hallways demanding anti-gun legislation to protect their schools. Yet, once again powerful lobbyists have taken center stage and, rather than limiting the presence of guns our schools the Florida House proposed arming teachers inside classroom and increasing police presence, which puts added pressure on students in schools, who are already being criminalized in staggering numbers. Increasing police presence in schools has been shown to significantly increase the criminalization of student behavior, pushing students into the juvenile justice system and the school-to-prison pipeline in vast numbers.
“Once again, the majority of our legislators have shown us they do not care about the will of the people. They have proposed and passed legislation arming teachers that will adversely impact families and communities. We look forward to more work in coalition with our partners, so that we may regain control over legislative power,” stated Jasmen Rogers of the Miami Workers Center.
While anti-immigrant bills HB 9/SB 308 and HB 45/SB 212 were ultimately blocked, bills that would have helped protect and strengthen the immigrant community also failed. Blocked bills such as HB 241/SB 1294, which would have provided drivers license and state ID cards to Floridians regardless of status, and HB 1333/SB 1726, which would have acknowledged the authority of local governments and limited the usage state and local law enforcement resources for the purposes of immigration enforcement, would have benefited not just immigrant communities, but all Floridians.
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