HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Thursday, a statewide immigrant labor strike closed businesses as the Hispanic community protested recent legislation.
Hundreds of people rallied alongside Dale Mabry Highway and Columbus against SB 1718, which Governor Ron Desantis signed in May.
Juan Baxcajay said he closed his business Thursday to support construction workers, farmers, and small business owners like him.
“We’re here to make this country better. We’ve been here for decades. Our kids were born here. Our families are here. We’re not going anywhere. We’d like to continue participating in the growth of this state and the country,” Baxcajay explained.
SB 1718 calls for stricter penalties for knowingly hiring or transporting undocumented people and e- verify employment screenings for new hires with businesses with 25 or more employees.
Supporters said it would act as a deterrent. They said there are serious issues at the border, and states must take action.
But, protesters told ABC Action News they’re worried about what new immigration laws could mean for Hispanic families.
“I know it’s very hard on the children because my husband was a child that was deported, and because of that, he didn’t get the education he was entitled to, and let’s just say I’m here for the children,” Maria Barajas said.
With signs that read ‘Immigrants make America great and “Say no to SB 1718’ people in attendance said they hoped this labor strike would spark change.
“I think it’s time to reform immigration law in order to fix all the situations we face right now. They work. They pay taxes. They’re just like any other citizen. So it’s important to fix the law,” Baxcajay said.