JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of supporters gathered at Drew Park in the Sans Souci neighborhood Saturday to stand in solidarity with immigrants in River City as a protest against Florida’s new immigration law is set to begin in July.
The event was called a “Vigil in Solidarity with Immigrants.”
The law limits social services for undocumented immigrants to discourage them from coming to the state.
An event organizer told News4JAX that this protest is not only meant to speak out against the new law but also to ensure immigrants know exactly how they’ll be impacted by the changes, and how they can stay safe.
Indira Moreno said Senate Bill 1718 will hurt the state and unfairly targets immigrants.
The new law includes the following:
- Require business owners to use E-verify to check employee work eligibility
- Suspend employer licenses for unqualified workers
- Human smuggling penalties enhanced
- Bans local governments from issuing identification cards
- Requires hospitals to collect data on immigrants without legal status
Andrea Reyes, an immigration attorney, was chanting to dozens of people who showed up to the peaceful protest.
“It’s going to ease some of that fear which has led over 100 families to leave Jacksonville. We’ve already had over 100 families in Jacksonville leave and go to Georgia, South Carolina North Carolina,” Reyes said.
Reyes also said those families leaving the state will hurt the economy and they want to limit that as much as possible.
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s International Affairs Unit also attended the event.
Organizers said it was important for them to be here so people who might be undocumented know that after this law goes into effect, they still have rights.
“Absolutely they have all the same rights as any us citizen does and it’s important for them to know that the same rights apply to everyone,” Belkis Plata, a criminal defense attorney said.
Organizers said they will continue to spread the word about this law to make sure people who are undocumented always know the facts.