People, businesses prepare to strike against Florida immigration laws
People nationwide are preparing for a strike on Thursday to show what the country would look like without immigrants. Businesses plan to close their doors and many people plan on calling out of work in protest of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent immigration laws. Luis Velasquez has owned a landscaping business for the last 15 years. “We’re the ones that keep gardens looking pretty in Palm Beach,” Velasquez said.
He's from Guatemala and is the breadwinner of his family as his wife is wheelchair-bound with two children. But he said his documents to work are still being processed.
"I get scared that I won't make it home and have my family waiting," Velasquez said. "What we're hearing is the new laws are going to be very strict and a lot of people don't want to wait for something to happen."
He said his business will be closed Thursday in protest of the new immigration laws, but it could be closed for good as the laws are forcing him to move his family out of state. "It's very difficult because we've fought so hard to be here, but we have to move to protect the family," Velasquez said. "The kids don't want to leave, but, sadly, we're very scared."
Hispanic-owned businesses like Bling Bling Barbershop in West Palm Beach are also closing for the day in support of what the Migration Policy Institute reports to be 800,000 undocumented immigrants in Florida.
"Everything that's happening makes me sad," Bladimir Galvez, the owner of Bling Bling Barbershop, said. "The whole world is finding out what's going on in Florida. What's going on is a lot of people are moving north because they're worried about what's going on."
Galvez said the new laws are driving away valuable workers and customers from the state. "This last week, a lot of our customers waited until school was over and moved their whole family out-of-state," Galvez said.
The law requires employers with 25 or more employees to use e-verify to check their legal status. Those who fail to comply will be fined $1,000 per day.
"My American dream now is for my kids' dreams to come true," Velasquez said. "I've been here for 30 years, but my hope is with them."
Velazquez said he plans to move by the end of June as the immigration law goes into effect on July 1.
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