ANTI-IMMIGRATION RALLY PLANNED FOR FORT MYERS by Roxanne Escobales

10/17/06

The backlash against undocumented immigrants picks up steam in Fort Myers this weekend with a rally planned on Sunday by the group Citizens Against Illegal Aliens. The group’s president Russell Landry says he hopes to educate Americans about the problems associated with those who live in the US without the permission from the government.

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But immigrant advocates say that undocumented immigrants are the backbone of the U-S economy. Blanca Gonzalez is the president of Immigrants United for Freedom in Plant City.

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The Florida agriculture industry has reported that this year’s crop may be the smallest since the freeze of the 1980s. That’s because the crackdown on undocumented immigrants means farmers cannot find the workers to harvest their crops. Landry of the Citizens Against Illegal Aliens says it’s about time that farmers start paying minimum wage to American workers.

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But immigrant advocate Blanca Gonzalez says this would push food prices up to levels unaffordable to the average American shopper.

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Beyond Sunday’s rally, another group has been collecting signatures to petition the Cape Coral city council and the Lee County Commission to pass an ordinance against undocumented immigrants. Mary Ann Redman co-founded Americans Standing Tall, the group petitioning the local government.

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Americans Standing Tall so far has collected 15 hundred signatures but has yet to get a response from the city council or county commission.

Blanca Gonzalez says that racism lies in the hearts of these movements.

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Former Mayor Tom Macklin of Avon Park attempted to pass a similar ordinance to the one Americans Standing Tall would like to pass in Lee County.

Macklin will be a speaker at the rally on Sunday in Centennial Park in downtown Fort Myers. Appearing with him will be the state president of the Minutemen, Mark Jarbeck.

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