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Get the latest coverage of the 2023 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

As anti-immigration law goes into effect, opponents march on Florida capital

Gov. Ron DeSantis has made immigration a cornerstone of his presidential bid.
Margie Menzel
/
WFSU
Gov. Ron DeSantis has made immigration a cornerstone of his presidential bid.

The day before a bill tightening restrictions on immigrants went into effect in Florida, about 60 opponents marched to the state capital. They came from all over the state and from as far away as California.

“No to SB 1718. No to SB 1718. We love Florida. We love Florida. We love Florida,” they chanted.

The marchers call themselves Caravan Todos Somos Florida. "We Are All Florida."

The new law requires hospitals to submit data about whether patients are in the country legally. It provides $12 million for a program that allows Florida to transport migrants to other parts of the country. Business owners would have to verify immigration status through the federal E-Verify system, and anyone who knowingly transports an undocumented immigrant could face criminal charges.

“That’s not right,” said Christopher McVoy, the vice mayor of Lake Worth. “That’s not treating people as human. [cheers].”

McVoy is the vice mayor of Lake Worth. He said the state of Florida sometimes wants immigrants for their labor, but often targets them as well.

“When they need the help, then we’re okay,” he told the crowd. “When they don’t need the help, then all of a sudden we’re criminals and we are illegal and this and that and the other and we have to go.”

Among the local leaders of the rally was 15-year-old Rubi Sandoval of Chattahoochee. It’s a rural, agricultural community about 44 miles west of the capital city.

“Everyone is scared,” she said, “But I tell them not to be scared, because if we all get united, we can all be heard, all of us become one loud voice so they can hear us."

Gov. Ron DeSantis has made immigration a cornerstone of his presidential bid. He’s drawn headlines for sending undocumented immigrants in Texas to states like Massachusetts and California—using Florida resources to do so. Most recently he said if elected president, he would finish building a wall across the southern U.S. border.
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Margie Menzel