Civil rights groups issue warning for immigrants traveling through Florida

click to enlarge Civil rights groups issue warning for immigrants traveling through Florida
Screen grab via FLImmigrantCoalition‏/Twitter
In the wake of recent high-profile raids and detentions, Florida civil rights groups are issuing a travel warning for immigrants passing through the state.

Immigrants and people of color across Florida feel threatened because of the vile rhetoric aimed at them from lawmakers, state and local governments and "corporations that refuse to protect their customers," said the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Mi Familia Vota, QLatinx and more than a dozen other organizations.

Florida saw a 76 percent increase last year in arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, the highest percentage jump in the country, according to the Pew Research Center.

In January, ICE struck a deal with 17 Florida sheriffs to pay law enforcement agencies $50 to hold undocumented people who have been arrested for up to 48 hours. The move gives federal immigration officials more time to start deportation proceedings. Earlier this year, two viral videos showed U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents detaining a woman from Jamaica and a man from Trinidad on a Greyhound bus and removing them in handcuffs.

"In light of these facts, all immigrants are urged to reconsider visiting Florida and especially recommended to avoid high risk areas, including ports, airports and Greyhound stations," the organizations said in a statement. "While a boycott is not being recommended at this time, travelers to Florida are being asked to use discretion, understand their risks and seek legal advice."

The coalition will be holding rallies across the state Wednesday, Feb. 14, to inform immigrants about the travel warning, including a rally in Orlando at the Caribbean Sunshine Bakery, 2528 W. Colonial Drive, at 11 a.m.

"We will not stand idly by while our local officials try to reap federal dollars off of the dehumanization of our communities," Orlando organizers said in a statement. "Stand with us at our actions across the state to tell our elected officials that Florida's immigrant community will not allow our local governments to become cogs in the racist, hate-fueled deportation machine."

For more information about constitutional rights for immigrants who come into contact with law enforcement officials, call the FLIC Immigrant Hotline for help in Spanish, English and Kreyol at 1-888-600-5762.

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