Miamians Protest Illegal Immigration Laws

Dozens rally in Little Havana against bills aimed at illegal immigrants

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The immigration issue is heating up in Tallahassee and in Miami, where people opposed to several bills filed in the state's capitol took their stance on the issue to the streets.

    Dozens rallied through the streets of Little Havana Monday afternoon against a handful of Arizona-style immigration laws that have been filed in the state legislature for this legislative session.

    Members of the Florida Immigrant Coalition took aim at one particular bill during their "Freedom Walk" yesterday: Senate Bill 2040, filed by State Senator Anitere Flores, a Cuban-American who represents southwest Miami-Dade.

    "We were completely surprised," said Carlos Pereirra. "Her district is almost completely formed by immigrants."

    The legislation would require local police to question the immigration status of any person arrested and mandate all businesses to verify the legal status of all their employees through the federal e-verify system. That would prevent undocumented citizens, like Gaby Pacheco, who was born in Ecuador and brought to the U.S. illegally by her parents from finding a job.

    "What they're trying to do is put us in jail," Pacheco said. "Senator Anitere Flores, who I volunteered for her campaign, she knows me very well, tell her not to do this to us."

    Demonstrators called it racial profiling, while some argued the state should tackle what they say are more important issues like education and health.

    Sen. Flores was not available for an interview, but she sent NBC Miami this statement:

    "I want to clarify that there are various different immigration proposals in the legislature right now. The Senate's current position is very different from any Arizona type laws. Some people want to strike fear, but I reiterate that I would never support legislation that would criminalize our nation's immigrants."