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Proposed Immigration Bill Stirs Concern Among Laborers

The threat imposed by the newly proposed bill by Rep. William Snyder (R-Stuart) that would ban undocumented immigrants from soliciting work is reason enough for many laborers to look towards the near future with fear and concern. According to the bill, “It would be illegal for a person who is not an authorized foreigner and is in the United States illegally to gather in public places to apply for work, be employed or work as an independent contractor in this state.” The bill would also allow police officers to investigate the immigration status of anyone who is detained and place them in removal proceedings.

Besides feeling marginalized, laborers from various Latin American countries that each day gather in hundreds of public places in Florida to wait for contractors to hire them fear the possibility of losing their livelihood in the same way many immigrants in Arizona have been affected because of the state’s harsh restrictions imposed on immigrants there. “Politicians do all this to take away our rights,” said Angel Casillas, an Honduran laborer who waits among dozens of others to be hired in a parking lot. “We are foreigners here and we really don’t have rights, and if the bill passes we’ll have fewer rights yet. We won’t be able to work, eat or send money to our families in our countries.” The Miami Herald reported some laborers saying that if it weren’t for immigrants, especially the illegal ones, many jobs in the country would remain undone. “We do the work others don’t want to do,” said one such laborer from Guatemala. Other laborers agreed that illegal workers contribute to unemployment because they charge significantly less for their work and are thus more likely to be hired. “A job worth $15 they will do it for $7 or $8,” said a legal Cuban immigrant who waited for work among illegal laborers.

As the Florida bill that will create major restrictions for immigration and immigrants alike is hotly debated by the legislature, we- the public and the legal community- will remain apprehensive of its progress and all of the consequences that may ensue.

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