tags: Press Releases

Florida GOP Lawmakers Admit Truth About DeSantis Anti-Immigrant Bill: Driven By Politics, Sows Fear and Will Harm Economy

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“This is a bill basically to scare people from coming to the state of Florida … And I think it’s done its purpose” – Florida GOP State Rep. Alina Garcia

Washington, DC – Yesterday, a trio of Florida Republican lawmakers accidentally told the truth about the harmful anti-immigrant legislation they recently voted for, highlighting growing concerns that the law could decimate key Florida industries’ workforces while admitting it was driven not by good policy but by political incentives – in this case the GOP presidential primary needs of Governor Ron DeSantis.

Right on cue, Ron DeSantis is now trying to claim the chaos and cruelty mantle from Donald Trump on immigration, touting, as NBC News puts it, “…his record on immigration, arguing that he is the true conservative on the issue … Immigration became a central part of the governor’s stump speech to voters this past week in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.”

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“The fact that Ron DeSantis thinks that a cruel and ugly anti-immigrant bill that threatens the economy of his state will boost his political prospects in the GOP primary is a damning reflection of the state of the Republican Party in 2023.

The state legislation is not yet fully enacted, but is already generating buyer’s remorse along with fears of worker shortages and industry worries in key Florida sectors such as agriculture and construction. This is yet another proof point of the high cost and consequences of GOP nativism and their preference for political stunts instead of real solutions.”

Below, find details and coverage of the three Florida Republicans’ comments yesterday on the impact and motivations of the state’s anti-immigrant legislative push:

The New Republic, “Florida Republicans Admit They Made a Big Mistake With Anti-Immigrant Law notes: 

“On Monday, Representatives Alina Garcia, Rick Roth, and Juan Fernandez Barquin appeared at an event sponsored by Hialeah Mayor Esteban Bovo, also a Republican. The trio, all of whom voted to pass the anti-immigrant bill, clumsily attempted to appeal to the thousands of people their party has alienated.

… ‘This bill is 100 percent supposed to scare you,’ said Roth. ‘I’m a farmer, and the farmers are mad as hell. We are losing employees. They’re already starting to move to Georgia and other states. It’s urgent that you talk to all your people and convince them that you have resources, state representatives, and other people that can explain the bill to you,’ he added, essentially begging Florida’s labor force to not leave the state that cares little for them.

‘This is more of a political bill than it is policy. It does give more police state powers going forward to deal with immigration, but still this is mainly a political bill,’ Roth concluded incoherently. It’s just politics and messaging, but also it ramps up the police state, but also it’s just all politics.’”

Also see Newsweek’s recap of the Monday meeting, including the comments of GOP Rep. Alina Garcia, who said: “This is a bill basically to scare people from coming to the state of Florida … And I think it’s done its purpose…”

In response, Florida immigrant rights activist Thomas Kennedy noted: “There you have it … The same scumbag politicians who voted for this anti-immigrant crap admit they did so to scare people from coming to Florida while also begging immigrants in a church to talk to their community so they don’t leave and keep working here. It’s all so disgusting.”