Statewide Immigrant Labor Strike: Florida’s Hispanic Community Unites Against New Immigration Law
In a powerful display of solidarity and resistance, business owners and workers across Florida closed their doors on Thursday to protest the state’s recently enacted immigration law. The Hispanic community led the charge, with hundreds of people gathering alongside Dale Mabry Highway and Columbus to voice their opposition to SB 1718, which was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in May.
Juan Baxcajay, a small business owner, proudly shuttered his establishment for the day to stand in support of construction workers, farmers, and fellow entrepreneurs. “We’re here to make this country better,” Baxcajay stated passionately. “We’ve been here for decades. Our kids were born here. Our families are here. We’re not going anywhere. We’d like to continue participating in the growth of this state and the country.”
SB 1718 introduces stricter penalties for knowingly hiring or transporting undocumented individuals, as well as mandates e-verify employment screenings for new hires in businesses with 25 or more employees. Proponents argue that the law serves as a necessary deterrent and contend that border security issues demand state-level action.
However, protesters, who spoke with ABC Action News, expressed deep concerns about the potential impact of new immigration laws on Hispanic families. Maria Barajas, among the attendees, shared her personal experience: “I know it’s very hard on the children because my husband was a child that was deported, and because of that, he didn’t get the education he was entitled to. Let’s just say I’m here for the children.”
Carrying signs emblazoned with powerful slogans like “Immigrants make America great” and “Say no to SB 1718,” the demonstrators hoped that their labor strike would ignite meaningful change. Baxcajay emphasized the need for comprehensive immigration law reform, stating, “I think it’s time to fix all the situations we face right now. They work. They pay taxes. They’re just like any other citizen. So it’s important to fix the law.”
This statewide immigrant labor strike signifies the determination and resilience of the Hispanic community in Florida. By closing their businesses and raising their voices together, they send a powerful message to lawmakers and the broader public, calling for a fair and compassionate approach to immigration. As the fight for immigration reform continues, it is clear that the spirit of unity and solidarity displayed on this day will fuel the pursuit of a more inclusive and just society for all.