Florida once celebrated for its sunny beaches and rich cultural tapestry, now finds itself embroiled in a battle of values and rights. At the epicenter of this storm is Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida’s SB 1718 — a chilling law that disregards driver’s licenses from undocumented immigrants and even criminalizes the act of transporting them across state borders into Florida.
LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), the stalwart of Latino civil rights, isn’t standing idly by. Domingo Garcia, LULAC’s national president, put it bluntly: “Knowledge is our greatest daily defense against hateful racial policies.” Whether it’s children getting an education, parents hustling for their daily bread, or the elderly seeking medical attention, this community can’t be paralyzed by fear.
In response, LULAC has rolled out safety protocols for Latino families in Florida. The advice is clear-cut and practical, reminding families to have an emergency plan ready in case of sudden detainment or deportation. This includes critical details like identifying caretakers for children, having an immigration attorney on speed dial, and readying legal documents that empower trusted individuals to make crucial decisions about their children’s welfare if parents are detained.
Since this draconian law came to life in July, Florida has seen waves of protests, leading both LULAC and The Florida Immigrant Coalition to caution against traveling to the state. While many immigrants have decided to leave in light of this intimidating atmosphere, some remain, refusing to be cowed and standing tall in the face of adversity. As the immigrant rights group WeCount! stated defiantly on social media, “¡Aqui estamos y no nos vamos!” (We’re here, and we’re not leaving!)
This isn’t just about Florida’s immigrant community; it’s an affront to American values. Leading civil rights groups have stepped in, challenging this divisive policy in the courts. The likes of the Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, Americans for Immigrant Justice, and others are joining the legal fray, asserting that the law promotes racial profiling and discrimination.
Paul R. Chavez, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project, minced no words about the law’s intent and impact: “SB 1718 is unconstitutional and undermines our democracy…Such an ugly attack on our immigrant community will not stand.”
As this legal battle unfolds, LULAC is also mulling over every potential legal action against the state for any racial profiling incidents by law enforcement while this law is active.
But it’s about more than just legal battles and courtroom dramas. It’s about the soul of a nation and the future of its immigrant communities. Garcia’s rallying cry encapsulates this sentiment: “Stop the hate, and don’t let Florida become the symbol of politically driven racism and ignorance.”
As young, socially conscious readers, it’s essential to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with communities under threat. Florida’s latest legislation underscores the urgent need for reform and collective action. Let’s raise our voices, challenge injustices, and push for a more inclusive America.