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Advocates for immigrants denounce Florida bill creating migrant transportation program

Farmworker Association of Florida
Via Facebook
Florida Immigrant Coalition Executive Director Tessa Petit speaks during a press conference at the Farmworker Association of Florida headquarters in Apopka.

Advocates for immigrants gathered in Apopka Tuesday to denounce a Republican bill creating a $10 million state program to transport migrants to and from anywhere in the U.S.

The bill -- House Bill 5B with its Senate companion -- is part of a legislative special session that started this week.

The bill's sponsor in the House of Representatives, Rep. John Snyder of Stuart, told a committee Monday that the program, called the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program, gives the governor flexibility to address an immigration crisis. Snyder said it will take migrants released by U.S. officials to so-called "sanctuary cities" that welcome them.

Those migrants remain in the U.S. lawfully while their asylum cases are pending.

Tessa Petit, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said lawmakers should have other priorities.

"We urge immigrants who are now new American voters and who have chosen people to represent them and be their voices to speak up and let them know these are not our priorities, immigrants are not our enemies," she said at Tuesday's press conference.

Opponents say the program will create more “political stunts” by Gov. Ron DeSantis that end up hurting migrant families.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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