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In a year where Florida politicians like Marco Rubio and Carlos Lopez-Cantera continue to embrace Trump’s extreme position on immigration, Republicans across the country should take note on Latino and immigrant community’s commitment to fight back anti-immigrant extremism.
The Florida’s legislative session has come to a close, meaning that several pieces of anti-immigrant legislation have been skewered.
The success of the We Are Florida! campaign can be illustrated by the commitment and dedication of countless families, activists, and local organizations who devoted time and resources to ensuring that Republicans in the state legislature did not use Florida’s immigrants as scapegoats.
For the past nine weeks, immigration advocates focused their efforts on defeating two key pieces of legislation that were inspired by Donald Trump’s racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Rallies, legislative visits, press conferences, petition deliveries, and editorials from the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times all contributed to this very important moment.
The leadership from Republican Senator Miguel Diaz De la Portilla was also crucial in this fight. What can only be described as a bold and courageous effort to put people over politics, Senator Diaz de la Portilla successfully put partisanship aside in order to join Democratic legislators like Senator Dwight Bullard and Representative Jose Javier Rodriguez in opposition to these anti-immigrant measures.
This is what Republican leadership really looks like – recognizing the contributions of immigrants in your district and state, and not caving to partisan politics with the sole purpose of scoring cheap political points on the back of hard-working families.
The We Are Florida! campaign remains commitment to fight any attack on immigrant communities from here on forth. The defeat of these anti-immigrant bills is only the beginning, Florida immigrants and their allies will continue to fight Republican efforts to separate separate and criminalize immigrant communities.
Francesca Menes, director of policy and advocacy with the Florida Immigrant Coalition, recalled the nine week battle to defeat these bills during a press conference at the Florida Capitol:
“We started the session off with nine bad, anti-immigrant bills. Bills that would criminalize mothers and fathers who re-united with their families. Bills that would increase penalties for undocumented immigrants who committed criminal offenses. Bills that would actually give the governor authority and power to call the military to block refugees for coming to our state. We are happy to say, one more day away from session ending, that these bills are dead,”
As we head into the Florida presidential primary next week, and the general election in November, Republicans nationwide need to understand that they cannot continue to insult the immigrant community without serious repercussions.