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“We Are Florida”: Immigration Advocates Descend on Tallahassee To Protest Upcoming Anti-Immigrant Legislation

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Immigration advocates from the “We Are Florida” campaign are gathering in Tallahassee, Florida, for several days this week in anticipation of several bills set for the 2016 legislative session that could both set back and advance immigrant families in the state.

From Florida Politics:

There are six specific bills that the Florida Immigrant Coalition listed as “opportunities and threats” for the coming session. Two of which immigrant rights groups and advocates united under the banner of the “We Are Florida” campaign are primarily concerned about.

One is a proposal being pushed by Doral Republican Carlos Trujillo in the House (HB 9) and Palm Coast Republican Travis Hutson in the Senate (SB 118) that would make it a first-degree felony for a person who has an order of deportation to continue living in the state of Florida,  punishable by up to 30 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

The other bill they are targeting is a measure sponsored by Groveland Republican Larry Metz in the House (HB 675) and Jacksonville Republican Aaron Bean in the Senate (SB 872) that would punish so-called “sanctuary” cities (or counties) that don’t cooperate with federal officials attempting to deport illegal immigrants. The attorney general would be authorized to file civil actions to halt sanctuary policies and impose fines of up to $5,000 per day on cities that have “written or unwritten” sanctuary policies. It’s inspired by the death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco last year by an undocumented immigrant who was arrested for prior crimes but released under San Francisco’s “sanctuary” policies preventing law enforcement from detaining illegal immigrants for minor crimes.

Activists say the legislation is inspired by Donald Trump, whose harsh comments about immigrants has fueled in part his rise in the Republican presidential race.

One bill supported by advocates “would extend health-care coverage to nearly 23,000 lawfully residing children of immigrants.”

AV’s Director of Digital Campaigns, Juan Escalante, is live on the ground in Tallahassee as advocates are organizing at the state capital building and planning rallies at the offices of legislators.

Politico’s Marc Caputo reports that Donald Trump is scheduled to appear in Pensacola just hours after the House Civil Justice Subcommittee is to hear a “Sanctuary Cities” crackdown bill included in the slew of immigration-related legislation.   More tweets from Juan on day two of the We Are Florida campaign:

Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanSaaa for the latest by-the-minute updates, which we’ll also continue to update here.