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Florida organizing for immigrant driver licenses

By staff |
December 19, 2013
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Tampa, FL - On Dec 17, a new immigrant rights group, Raíces en Tampa, met with community members and students to launch a movement to demand driver licenses for undocumented immigrants in Florida.

Previous attempts to pass driver license bills in Florida had support, but still failed. In 2012, the Dream Act Driver License bill unanimously passed in the state legislature. However, Florida Governor Rick Scott brought it down with a veto.

Jared Hamil a member of Raíces en Tampa explained, "The Dream Act Driver License bill would have only been offered to those who currently receive Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA." Hamil continued, "DACA recipients already can obtain driver's licenses so this bill really did not affect anyone. We know this same bill is up for debate again in the 2014 legislative session and it is probably the one that will pass. So we are here as Raíces en Tampa to ensure we push for what 1.5 million undocumented immigrants need; not what the politicians will compromise with. We organize people, not politicians."

Raíces en Tampa has decided to take this issue at full-force. Already tabling and flyering, Raíces en Tampa is uniting the community and groups across Florida by talking to people one on one. They created a Facebook page, Driver's Licenses for All Undocumented - Florida, attracting followers, including the popular band La Santa Cecilia.

"We are workers, students, and community members," said Marisol Marquez, a member of Raíces en Tampa. "We are not paid to do what we do and we do not have the money to lobby in the Capitol in Tallahassee. We are everyday people who are committed to connecting the people locally to take action. We are teaching others in different cities of Florida to do the same."

Raíces en Tampa's meeting was filled with bright ideas and enthusiasm. There was talk about similar groups, non-profits and organizations taking on the issue of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.

"I believe the time is now. If we as Raíces en Tampa don't do it who will?" says Alicia Argeñal of Raíces en Tampa "We know that in Florida, before we decided to take this campaign on, no one was touching it. Lobbyists in Tallahassee were not bringing this issue home to everyday people. I myself do it because it affects me. I do it for me, for my brothers, sisters and future generations in the state of Florida."

Raíces en Tampa was founded on Aug. 29, 2013 and is gaining momentum. The list of groups signing on to the campaign for drivers licenses for all includes both Florida and national groups: Raíces en Tampa, United Families in Miami; Consulado Mexicano - Orlando; DREAMers Moms from Orlando, Miami, Dallas, Arizona, and Utah; Students for a Democratic Society; League of United Latin American Citizens and Young American Dreamers. The list continues to grow.

If you wish to join the campaign, be sure to visit: http://facebook.com/dl4allflorida, and stay tuned. If you have a photo you wish to submit to show support for Driver's Licenses for All Undocumented - Florida, email it to [email protected].

 

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