A number of businesses around the state are shut down so workers can hold protests against Florida’s new anti-immigration law.
Hundreds of people are peacefully protesting in Fort Myers Thursday. They want to emphasize the importance of immigrants to Florida’s economy.
WINK News walked two miles with protestors down Immokalee’s main roads to speak with people like Jajayra Torres, a DACA recipient.
“I’m a DACA recipient. And I’m illegal. And I’m just representing the Spanish people,” Torres said.
WINK News also spoke with Karla Correa, who came all the way from St. Petersberg to stand up for what she believes.
“Our state relies on immigrants, our community is made up of immigrants,” Correa said. “There is unity here in Florida. People do support the immigrant community here.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in May, making it the strongest anti-illegal immigration legislation in the county. The law makes it mandatory for any company with 25 or more employees to use E-Verify, the federal online database employers use to determine work eligibility in the U.S.
It penalizes those who employ illegal immigrants and prohibits local governments from issuing identification cards to illegal immigrants and requires hospitals to collect data if they serve immigrants.
The law will go into effect one month from Thursday.
“Well, I think it’s obvious, you know. Many of our immigrants are a part of our labor force,” a protestor said, “so people are working, are sustaining this society to make this happen every day. So absolutely, all of us, I think one of every four are immigrants, so I think everybody knows they impact that.”
At least six local communities, including Max Foods, Mucky Duck and Iguana Mia’s location in Bonita Springs are closed Thursday. Most of them said they fully support their workers standing up for what they believe in.
Some businesses had no choice. They didn’t have workers to open Thursday because their workers were marching.
One woman told WINK News in Spanish, “Without the hands of the Latinos here in the state of Florida, you have nothing.”
Protestors are also standing on the corner of U.S. 41 and Airport-Pulling Road in Naples waving flags and holding signs up that say “Immigrants make America great.”
The protestors in Naples told WINK News that the only way to get the message out there is by uniting and protesting.
The Florida Immigrant Coalition, community leaders and Unidos Immokalee, will also join together Thursday for a peaceful protest in Immokalee.
Many of them either skipped work or left early to participate.
The protests are set to begin on Thursday at 4 in a parking lot at La Fiesta in Immokalee.