TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Dozens of female immigrant rights activists railed against the tough-on-immigration agenda of the legislature's majority Republicans Wednesday.
- Immigrant rights activists rally against anti-immigrant policies
- Appears unlikely leaders will be submitting to activists' demands
- RELATED: 13 Issues to Watch in the 2020 Florida Legislative Session
They warned it could further alienate Florida's growing Hispanic electorate as the 2020 election cycle heats up.
Gathering in the state Capitol rotunda for their “State of the Latina” day, the activists excoriated Republicans for fast-tracking legislation mandating that public-sector employers use the federal E-Verify database to screen new hires for citizenship status.
The bill has been filed by the same lawmakers who championed a 2019 crackdown on so-called “sanctuary cities” that was ultimately signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
"We are definitely paying attention, and organizations like ours are going to make sure that people don't forget, and definitely here, voice their opinions and remember who is on their side and who isn't," said Natalia Jaramillo of New Florida Majority, one of the advocacy groups organizing Wednesday's event.
The rally also focused on promoting Democratic legislation that would extend Bright Futures state university system scholarship eligibility to the children of undocumented immigrants and grant driver licenses to the undocumented.
Both bills have yet to receive a hearing in either the House or the Senate.
It appears unlikely legislative leaders will be submitting to the activists' demands. The sponsor of the E-Verify measure, Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), said in a Wednesday interview that his constituents are calling for the legislature to take a harder line on immigration.
"Why don't you focus on the businesses that hire these illegal immigrants?" Gruters said he's often asked. "Well, that's exactly what we're trying to do. We're trying to clamp down and turn the spigot off the incentive that drives illegal immigration to our state."