Tallahassee, FL - A group of farmers, construction workers and gardeners packed the halls of the state capitol Tuesday, trying desperately to talk to lawmakers. The group carried American flags and wore stickers opposing immigration reform. After three fruitless trips to legislative offices, the group of 70 split into three, to make up more ground.
“At some point I know we are going to be able to meet with them. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it’s got to be before they give a final decision,” said Brendy Gutierrez.
For seven weeks immigrants and their supporters have been protesting the legislation that would make being undocumented a crime and allow local law enforcement to check the immigration status of people under investigation.
Their tireless lobbying efforts are starting to be pay off. Republican lawmakers one by one seem to be backing away from the issue.
Most Hispanic Republicans now oppose the bill. Majority leader Carlos Lopez Cantera has spoken out against the legislation in the Spanish media, but is avoiding our cameras.
The protesters have made Senate President Mike Haridopolos their main target. They brought kids and coloring books to his office. We asked Haridopolos if he would stop the bill.
“We are going to look at that on Thursday in the budget committee and we are still debating exactly what will be in it,” said Haridopolos.
The protesters plan to stay through the week. They’ve raised more than 12-thousand dollars to rent buses and hotel rooms and have taken their kids out of school in an attempt persuade lawmakers.
A major issue playing against the protesters is promises made by Republican lawmakers and the governor on the campaign trail. They promised to pass an immigration law similar to Arizona’s. We’ll soon find out if protests are more powerful than campaign promises.