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Anti-immigrant Organizations launch campaign and contact ICE, claiming that the hundreds protesting in the capitol are “Illegal aliens”
As activists and organizations of diverse ethnic backgrounds advocating against the SB1070-style racial profiling legislation moving through the Florida legislature, we call on all who believe in justice and human rights to stand with us, and protest alongside us, in this struggle.
We call for solidarity now, because the legislative session ends in 5 days. A racial profiling legislation is imminent, and we have just been reminded of the blatant racism and xenophobia we face:
Last week, Geoff Ross, a tea party activist from northern Florida, filed a complaint with the US Department of Homeland Security, alleging that those protesting, lobbying and testifying in the Florida state capitol were “illegal aliens”, whose presence legislators and police should have reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
For weeks, in steadily-growing vigils, prayers, testimonies and sit-ins inside the halls, offices and committee hearings of the state capitol, we have exercised our constitutional rights, told our stories, and moved our legislators to tears, changes of hearts, and shifts in political positions. We are children; students; families; survivors of domestic violence, discrimination and family deportations; workers; community leaders; people of all faiths (or lack thereof), all ethnic backgrounds and all personal circumstances.
Our acts have been powerful but always peaceful and orderly. And as we have mobilized, organizations as diverse as Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and Catholic Bishops of Florida have stated their opposition to the bills, SB2040 in the Senate and HB7089 in the house. Geoff Ross’ allegations come in an environment of widespread political opposition, of which the daily demonstrations inside the capitol are only one manifestation. As the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) said in an open letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), “We see the letter from this gentleman [Geoff Ross] as a threat to the constitutional rights of those gathered in Tallahassee and as a clear indication of the culture of xenophobia and racism…” In the organization’s letter, FLIC urged ICE to guarantee the safety of those protesting in the capitol.
In addition to Mr. Ross’ letter, e-mails and blog posts with hateful messages have been increasing. While all of this is a bitter reminder of the racism we struggle against, it is also an opportunity to affirm the diversity, humanity, and solidarity of this movement, built not on illegality but a shared belief in justice.
We oppose these laws because immigrants are a part of our communities, not a threat to them: they contribute to our economies through the valuable work they do, the taxes they pay, and the goods they buy. We oppose them because undocumented immigrants would not be the only ones to pay if an Arizona-style bill passes in Florida: police could arrest anyone they “suspect” of being an immigrant. We oppose them because, like the Arizona courts, we recognize that arresting people for the color of their skin, and criminalizing people for their presence in this country is unconstitutional and unjust. We oppose them because police have more important things to do with their time and money than racially profile people who have not committed crimes. We oppose because no human is illegal. We oppose because we know racism when we see it.
Join our fight against racial profiling laws in Florida. Contact Senate president Mike Haridopolos and tell him to kill SB2040 at 850-487-5229. (If it goes to voicemail, press 0.) Visit wearefl.com to join the campaign.