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Protest against anti-immigration bill shows no signs of slowing

Written by on Friday, June 30, 2023

When Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the anti-immigrant bill, Senate Bill 1718 into law, a first wave of backlash hit the state on June 1. Now, the second wave is coming.

By Johannes Werner

Original Air Date: June 28, 2023


Official Transcript

Host: When Governor Ron DeSantis signed the anti immigrant Senate Bill 1718 into law, a first wave of backlash hit the state. On June 1, thousands marched and protested, truckers refused to haul goods from and to Florida, and dozens of immigrant-owned businesses shut down to show Florida what it’s like to live through a day without migrants. Now, the second wave is coming. This Saturday, July 1, the law becomes effective and more actions are planned. Here are the details.

Crowd: [Cheering, yelling, music and horns blaring.]

Host: This is the sound of thousands of protesters, June 1, in Immokalee, a majority minority town of farm workers just east of Naples. On this Day Without Immigrants, Unidos, Immokalee and the Florida Immigrant Coalition rallied an estimated 7,000 farm workers, construction workers, landscapers, restaurant and shop owners, their families and supporters from across southwest Florida to take the streets of the small town in a one-day work stoppage and major march in order to protest Florida’s new anti immigration law.

Dozens of immigrant businesses throughout Manatee and Sarasota County shut down that day. And there was a demonstration at the steps of the Manatee County Courthouse in Bradenton. Since then, weekend demonstrations have carried on in Florida cities, including Tampa. But now the law becomes effective this Saturday, July 1 and organizers are using the hashtag, #laluchacontinua, to stir up even bigger crowds via TikTok and Twitter.

This time, the Day Without Immigrants is turning into a strike and boycott of several days from June 30 through third of July. One of the bigger impacts is expected from a re-energized trucker boycott. Maybe surprisingly to some, there is widespread support for the protest and expectations of actual disruption. According to a survey of 235 transportation industry employees in Florida, by Risk Strategies JW Surety Bonds, one in five truckers are already boycotting or are planning to boycott Florida due to Senate Bill 1718.

61% of transportation employees surveyed support the boycott and 60% of these transportation employees predict supply chain disruptions. In a separate survey of more than 800 Florida residents in general, Risk Strategies found concern about rising prices and disruptions as a consequence of the trucker boycott. Even so, 60% of the general population in Florida, according to this survey, are supporting the protest.

Meanwhile, a truck convoy coming all the way from California is approaching Tallahassee, its final destination, where it is scheduled to arrive this Friday. The caravan organizers are calling for a general boycott of Florida and are planning for a protest in the State Capitol on July 1. A related protest is scheduled for Tampa as well.

On Tuesday, the convoy stopped in El Paso, Texas. Some caravan members made their case and vented their anger at Ron DeSantis. Juan José Gutiérrez, an activist from California, was one of them.

Juan José Gutiérrez: Porque los millones y millones de trabajadores inmigrantes están hartos.

Host: [Overlapping, translating to English] “Why this caravan? Because the millions and millions of immigrant workers are fed up. We are fed up because despite our work, despite how we produce this country’s wealth and because we pay taxes, instead of gaining more rights, we are losing rights. Like my mother would say, we’re walking backwards like the crab. They see all of us as illegals, even if we are U.S. citizens, even if we are legal residents, even if we have a work permit. In the mind of the racists, those Nazis disguised as the Democrats, we’re all illegals. They paint us as terrorists, they paint us as narcos, they paint us as criminals when the only thing we do ismake this country great with our work.”

Protesters are not only trying to stir up people against xenophobic policies, but also raise awareness about immigration reform and a path to citizenship for undocumented people. To that end, they are calling on the U.S. Congress to revive House Bill 1511, which has lingered in committee for many weeks.

For WSLR News, this has been Johannes Werner.


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