Hundreds protest new immigration reform bill in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Today, a nationwide protest demanding immigrants’ rights had a major presence in Jacksonville. Governor Ron DeSantis’s immigration reform bill or sb 1718 sparked this action.


And critics are calling it an “anti-immigration” law.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

Today, more than a hundred people banded together in front of the Cuba Libre bar in Spring Park and about another hundred congregated at the Jacksonville Flower Market.

They chanted in Spanish saying, “We are immigrants, and we build America.”

“We are asking for an opportunity to live, to be free, to build America to build Florida,” Notijax event organizer Patricia Buitron said.

This is all part of a national movement called ‘Un dia sin Inmigrantes,’ or a ‘Day Without Immigrants.’

Related Story: US, Mexico agree on tighter immigration policies at border

“We want love we don’t want hateful laws,” Wendy Farfan said. “We want immigrants. Who is going to pick up the tomatoes, who’s going to pick up the mangos, who is going to clean the bathrooms who is going to do your construction work?”

Governor DeSantis calls this the strongest anti-illegal immigration bill in the nation to combat what he says is the ‘Biden Border Crisis.’

“We’re supposed to be the world’s leading superpower,” Governor DeSantis said. “And yet we can’t even make maintain control of our own southern border. Mexican drug cartels have more to say about what goes on in the southern border than our own US government does.”

The legislation imposes penalties for those employing illegal immigrants. It also requires employers to check the status of new employees through E-verify. Businesses could face felony charges and be forced to shut down if they don’t comply.

“This bill criminalizes citizens, people that have papers that are supporting these people,” Farfan said. “I don’t want a felony. I don’t want a third-degree felony because I support them.”

Related Story: Florida lawmakers send sweeping immigration bill to the Governor’s desk

It also prohibits local governments from issuing IDs to immigrants living here illegally, and it requires hospitals to collect and submit data for any undocumented person who seeks healthcare.

“If you ask for documents when you go to a hospital, that’s against your human rights,” Buitron said.

Aylin Gutierrez came to America from Honduras about five years ago. She along with others from countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, and Columbia are seeking a better life.

Most of us came here because we have opportunities,” Gutierrez said in Spanish. “In our country, crime and the government, also has a lot to do with it.”

Many migrants came here to work. And uniting today, they are hoping to make a change.

“We are already here to fight for our family, and for our future, and for our generations,” Gutierrez said in Spanish.

The event organizer tells me this is just the beginning of many protests to come.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

To learn more about SB 1718, you can click here.