TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) — The controversial law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month will take effect one month from Thursday. Members of Tampa’s Hispanic community are fired up and speaking out, saying this will hurt families and Florida’s economy.
“We are your roofers! We are your framers!” shouted protester Nancy Salegio. “We cross the border, but we give our lives to work!”
More than 1,000 protesters lined Dale Mabry Highway protesting Florida’s new immigration law Thursday.
“We Built Walmart, we built 7-Eleven, we built Publix,” said Jose Cruz, a construction worker.
Cruz said he also helped build Rooms To Go.
“Now, that building is getting money from daily sales, many sales that right now the capitol is getting because we work hard under the sun, outside, and here we are united under one cause, so we make a call to the governor,” said Cruz.
Gov. DeSantis said the law is a way to keep undocumented immigrants from coming to Florida.
“We want businesses to hire citizens and legal immigrants, but we want them to follow the law and not do illegal immigrants,” said Gov. DeSantis.”
The new law requires businesses with 25 or more employees to use E-Verify to check workers’ immigration status. It also requires hospitals to collect information about patients’ immigration status and submit it to the state. It will also provide an extra $12 million for a migrant relocation program.
Cruz said he wants peace.
“So I can go out in the morning to work and not panic and not be afraid that migration will catch me,” he said. “We are humble, and we are workers.”
Some Hispanic business owners also closed down to show their support, including Nora Urbina from Honduras.
“We feel very bad. Many of our immigrants have left Florida, leaving everything they know,” she said.
According to the migration policy institute, nearly 800,000 undocumented people are living in Florida.
“Our tomatoes are going to go up, our citrus is going to go up, our construction – everything is going to go out because, where is the labor?” said Rep. Susan L. Valdes. “It’s a major impact on the economy and I’m really just afraid of what it’s going to do to the economy in the state of Florida.”
The new law takes effect on July first.