Florida Immigrant Coalition heads to Washington

06/18/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:

3 busloads of Florida Immigrants arrived this afternoon in Washington D.C., where the 150 or so of those plan to march in front of the White House tomorrow in support of comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Hope Bastian is a spokesperson for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, which had buses leave from both Miami and Clearwater on Sunday (roll tape#1 o.q.”

After attending a prayer service tomorrow, the group plans to march to the Whtie House and then later meet individually with Florida lawmakers, including Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez.

Their visit coincides with news that the U.S. Senate plans to discuss a revised bipartisan immigration bill that would revamp border protection, punish employers of illegal immigrants and provide citizenship opportunities for illegal immigrants.

Those on the caravan support the main tenants of the legislation right now. However, some immigrant advocates have said that the requirement that the head of a household must return to his or her country of origin, as well as pay thousands of dollars in fines and fees, is too onerous. Largo resident Juan Pablo Chavez is the statewide coordinator with the Florida Immigrant Coalition. He worries about that provision, as well as others that could affect family members getting priority into the US (roll tape#1 o.q.”human perspective”)

Over the weekend, Missisippi Senator Trent Lott, who supports most of the provision in the Senate bill that is trying to be revived, blamed its earlier destruction on Talk Radio.

Its been conservative talk show hosts that has fueled populist anger against the proposed legislation – although dissatisfaction on with the legislation is across the political spectrum.

Juan Pablo Chavez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition says fear of immigrants is creating much of the heated opposition (roll tape#2 o.q.” amnesty”)

Lilliana Carillo will be a Juinor at Hillsborough High School in Tampa in the fall. She says she compassion for undocumented schoolmates (roll tape#3 o.q.”came from”)

On Tuesday, part of the agenda for the Florida Immigrant Coalition will be to meet with their members of Congress. Sebastian Rios will be a Senior at Sickles High School in Northwest Tampa later this year. He said one of the items he wants to speak to his representatives in Washington is about the DREAM Act , which would address the American born children of undocumented immigrants . The law would help such students in terms of college tuition and a chance at gaining Permanent Residency.(roll tape4# “U.S. citizens have”) The Florida Immigrant Coalition will return back to Florida late Wednesday.

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