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Tampa Dream Defenders launch campaign, demanding ‘Drivers licenses for all’

By Jared Hamil |
April 2, 2013
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Tampa 'Legalization For All' event
Tampa 'Legalization For All' event (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tampa, FL - Activists came together here, March 29, to announce a campaign under the demand “Licenses for All” undocumented people in Florida. Members of Dream Defenders, Hondurenos Unidos en Tampa, Mexican American Student Association (MASA), and Latin American Student Association (LASA) at the University of South Florida will be pushing the Tampa City Council to allow drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants. The number of undocumented immigrants in Florida is estimated to be 1 million people. Many of the undocumented end up being deported after being pulled over from driving without a license.

The activists met at El Rincon Catracho, a Honduran restaurant in the heart of the Latino community in Tampa, where they announced to the media that they would be kicking off this campaign and urged others to join them.

Maritza Jaramillo of Dream Defenders talked about ways the undocumented are exploited because they do not have citizenship. She said, “My family left their homelands in hopes of working towards a better future, as any other might aspire to do. We are calling for a simple step to help our immigrant families: Licenses for all!”

The next day, Dream Defenders hosted a party at the restaurant. Members of the community joined with activists demanding Legalization for All, and a campaign demanding drivers licenses for the undocumented. From there, they partied with DJ Collective and Evolucion Musikal, a Central American band.

Within a half an hour of the music starting, the police showed up saying it was too loud. The owner explained to the police that the American club next door plays all the time and never got complaints. The police became even more forceful and came into the restaurant to make the musicians turn down the music. Many people concluded that the music was being shut down because it was Latino.

After many announcements and some dancing, members of Dream Defenders spoke to the crowd. Marisol Marquez said, “Seeing as how the majority of deportations are a direct result of being caught driving without a license, licenses for all undocumented immigrants would be a tremendous help. And with that, on April 18 again we invite you and everyone you know to join us at City Hall at 9:00 a.m. to force this on the agenda and later that day at 6:30 p.m. we will rally to demand ‘Drivers Licenses for All!’”