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FL Leaders to Trump & the GOP: Scapegoating Immigrants Won’t Win You the Presidency

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Grassroots & labor activists continue to reject GOP attempts to vilify immigrants and play on economic and social fears for electoral gain.

Leaders from across the Sunshine State firmly rejected Donald Trump’s latest attempt to vilify the undocumented community and pit American-born workers against immigrants.

While many thought that Trump would try to use his Wednesday night speech in Phoenix to moderate his past hateful and vitriolic speech, it soon became clear that he was instead using his moment to solidify a GOP base that has been increasingly fueled by the alt-right and extremist groups. Blaming immigrants from everything from economic stagnation to rampant violence, Trump presented 10 overlapping policy points that included deporting current undocumented immigrants, imposing mandatory minimum sentences for those who overstay their visas, blocking funding for immigrant-friendly cities and detaining any undocumented immigrant accused of a crime.

Using half-truths and lies already debunked by experts, Trump quickly reminded voters what truly is at stake in this election. He clarified a plan that that may have reinvigorated a base that delivered him the Republican nomination, but it’s also one that is neither presidential nor respectful of the diverse communities that power American democracy.

“Working families in Florida will not be fooled by a desperate doubling down on dangerous policy and hateful rhetoric by a failing presidential candidate. Donald Trump remains the most divisive and untrustworthy choice for the top office,” said Mike Williams, President of the Florida AFL-CIO. “Bad immigration policy, not immigration in and of itself, hurts American workers. All workers benefit from a comprehensive immigration system with a roadmap to citizenship. Trump’s enforcement-only inspired approach has proven to be ineffective, expensive and disastrous for taxpayers and workers’ rights. We should be building bridges of shared prosperity into our immigrant worker communities, not building walls.”

“No matter which face Donald Trump puts forward the men and women who wake up every day to keep our cities, counties and states running will not forget his lifetime record of scapegoating, threatening, belittling and discriminating against our coworkers, neighbors and friends,” said Andy Madtes, executive director for AFSCME Florida. “His xenophobic vision for America would wreck the economy and our state for generations to come.”

“Instead of vilifying immigrants, Trump should start listening to Florida’s working families, to our kids, to our voters,” said Monica Russo, president of SEIU Florida and executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East in Florida. “Since 2013, voters have said in poll after poll that they support immigration reform with a path to citizenship. If there’s still room for doubt, recent polls confirm that 62% of Floridians haven’t changed their mind.”

“The Donald Trump we heard Wednesday is the same racist one who has constantly said that he wants to criminalize immigrants, end DACA for Dreamers, and limit who gets access to the American Dream,” said Maria Rodriguez of FLIC Votes. “The only plan that he and his GOP apologists are offering is one that disrupts the social and economic fabric of hundreds of thousands of communities, all in a hate-fueled scheme that will leave this nation as ‘great’ as any of Trump’s failed businesses.”

“Donald Trump doesn’t understand that the concerns of most Americans go beyond just one racial or ethnic group. Puerto Ricans may be American citizens, but we understand the plight of many of our immigrant brothers and sisters,” said Frederick Velez III of Organize Now. “It’s not just because we too know what it’s like to be treated as “the other” or at some point may have been made to feel ashamed of our language, culture and customs.  We live in mixed families and mixed communities where everything from our hearts to our economic future is intertwined with those who are seeking to normalize their status. If he understood and respected that, he would understand that the way to fixing our immigration system is a comprehensive approach that builds on our nation’s strength instead of pitting Americans against each other.”

“Donald Trump proved once again that he is unfit to lead this entire country,” said Marcia Olivo of the Miami Workers Center. “Undocumented immigrants and their children, many whom are American citizens, work hard, pay taxes and contribute in other invaluable ways. They are not the reason for depressed wages, rising housing costs, unaffordable child care, substandard schools and other challenges that worries every American. To scapegoat them for those problems and empower racist white nationalists may be classic Trump, but certainly not a recipe for the leadership we need.”

“After yesterday, there should be no doubt that any mentions of a possible ‘moderate’ or ‘compassionate’ immigration policy from the Trump campaign are, at best, insincere,” said Tampa-based community activist Ana Lamb. “In that way, nothing has changed — Trump and his supporters still has every intention of separating families and leaving 11 million without a pathway to equality.”

“This is more of the same bait, switch, and blame game.  It does nothing but scare up votes and increase profits for private prison companies,” said Gihan Perera of New Florida Majority. “ It’s the same fear mongering that has done little For the economy, torn apart families, and narrowed futures for a generation of black and Latino young people.”

“Trump’s blatant misogyny and devaluing of women is backwards and ignorant,” said Esther Pereira, a new American immigrant leader and community organizer from Broward County. “His speech tonight shows precisely how he wants to divide us and incite Americans to fight against each other. So tell me, what would this country really look like with a person like that at its helm?”

“Donald Trump will not change his immigration position and that will have consequences at the ballot box. Our community will not forget how he used and abused our hard work, disrespected our families and creating an unprecedented environment of racism and hate,” said María Bilbao with United Families.  “The saddest part of it all is that even after Wednesday, we will continue to see Hispanic leaders selling out the community in exchange for a fat salary and attempting to confuse Hispanics into voting for Trump.”

“It’s clear after Wednesday that no matter how much Trump surrogates like Helen Aguirre or Modesto Maidique  or Rep. Carlos Trujillo try to portray him as compassionate and moderate, that his immigration policy is anything but that. He continues to run a campaign of xenophobia and hatred and overwhelmingly speaks of Mexicans and other immigrants as as rapist, thieves and killers,” said Miami-based activist and writer Thomás Kennedy.  “Wednesday is just another example as to why we can never trust Trump to have the best interest of our community at heart.”

“Donald Trump has answered once and for all how he feels about undocumented immigrants that the communities that support them,” said Elbert Garcia, State Director for Florida’s Voice. “Now with the Florida primaries over, it’s now time for surrogates and candidates to decide. Will you fight for Donald’s Trump’s limited vision of America and his Willie Horton-esque vilification of immigrants? Or will you fight for the promise of America where success is not determined by what your parents did or where you come from, but how hard you are willing work with and for your neighbors?”