TALLAHASSEE, FL– Florida’s legislative sessions came to an end as immigrant rights advocates celebrate the defeat of all anti-immigrant and anti-refugee bills proposed. The 2017 session marked one of the most aggressive sessions with nine Trump-Inspired bills, ranging from the criminalization of immigrants by raising the penalties solely based on the person’s immigration status, to punishing cities and counties for wanting to protect all of their residents.
The We Are Florida! campaign led by the Florida Immigrant Coalition and its members maintained constant presence, mobilizing hundreds of community members to the state’s capitol to remind legislators of the collective power of immigrants, workers, women and LGBT members .
“In a moment where hatred and discrimination is being normalized, our immigrant, Muslim and communities of colors stood together fighting back nine bills seeking to criminalize our families and legalize racial profiling in Florida,” said Francesca Menes, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “Time and time again, we see our very own Latino State Representatives selling out their own voters and supporting hateful legislation which has been legally challenged on constitutional grounds, and the courts continue to affirm local governments not being required to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.”
One of the most highly debated bills, HB697, threatened local democracy by stripping power away from local governments to protect its residents, threatening to withhold state funding and forcing a state-wide ban of sanctuary cities. The final party-line vote of 76 in favor to 41 against happened just days after a court blocked Trump’s executive order to withhold funds from sanctuary cities.
“We find it hypocritical for Latino legislators to claim to be proud of their heritage while allowing anti-immigrant legislation to progress in the state legislature and they will be held accountable,” said Daniel Barajas, Executive Director for the Young American Dreamers (YAD). “YAD continues to stand with other organizations across the state as we show these elected officials that our communities are not alone, and we’ll help them fight for the American dream.”
“It is good news that anti-immigrant bills did not pass this session but that does not excuse those representatives that voted for HB 697 in the House. We will remember, and continue the fight to recognize the full human rights of the immigrant community,” said Miguel Bernal, Vice President of WeCount! and FLIC board member.
Organizations involved in the We Are Florida! Campaign, pledged to work to educate and mobilize voters to ensure legislators closely reflect the needs of their communities.