NOTES FROM THE TRAIL

Great Day for the State of Florida

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Posted on May 7, 2011 by felipe | Post a comment

Every morning immigrants in every corner of the state wake up to toil away on our fields, hotels, construction sites, etc. Their work conditions are not always the most favorable or even just. However, every morning our routines never end and our commitment to the growth of the sunshine state continues to grow as the children of immigrant parents grow up to become doctors, nurses, teachers and even US Senators. The fact that Florida’s vast horizon is free from laws based on hate is because these same immigrants woke up but this time to claim back their humanity.

 

Many will claim victory, however, truth be told- we made the needle move! It was the people from Quincy, a panhandle community that battled their greatest fear and spent virtually everyday inside the Florida’s State Capitol in prayer. It was the people from the Tampa area that brought more than 500 people to Tallahassee so legislators could understand the impact of this legislation on them. People from Palm Beach that relentlessly would travel on a moment’s notice a 7-hour drive to beef up the resistance and our lobbying capacity in Tallahassee. It was the DREAMers that sat-in inside one of the most powerful figures, Senate President Haridopolis, in the state so their community wouldn’t get ignored. Finally, the people from Miami that battled the sun and the rain for the three days on a 24/7 vigil despite the drunkards that would bother us at night or the mosquitoes that would eat us alive. We did not move and we never gave up!

 

This was a collective effort. Volunteers from North Carolina, Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland spent almost two months helping us make the impossible happen. Youth from Texas and other part of the country set up phone banks to push important decision makers on key moments. There were more than 230 organizations that opposed the bills and help to create pressure so the Sunshine State would not become a “Show Me Your Papers” state. What happened in Florida will always be a testament of our power as a movement. So many put their grain of sand so the voices of the unheard would be amplified. 

 

These stories were our rock and the most important part of our campaign against hate and political ambition.  It was the stories of mothers that had their families torn apart by deportation or the young person that had their dreams shattered because of their immigration status. I will never forget Roxana, a survivor of domestic violence that for the very first time shared to anyone about her pain and the police mistreatment she faced due to her status when she tried to bring charges on the perpetrator.  I will always have them in my heart as I continue to fight for immigrant rights.

 

In the beginning of the legislative session I used the analogy of a hurricane to describe what was coming to Florida if any Arizona-style bill would pass. Now we are starting to see the sunrays penetrating the thick clouds of the storm. However, our fight is not over as Senator Haridopolis and Governor Rick Scott have already pledged to bring the same legislation again next year. Let’s celebrate but continue building our movement as we change hearts and minds through the power of love.

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