Anti-immigrant Florida Congressman Ross confronted
Tampa, FL – Student groups from the Tampa Bay area and neighboring Polk County came together, Jan. 24, to demand answers from Congressman Dennis Ross and protest his anti-immigrant record.
Students from local immigrant rights groups confronted Congressmen Ross at his town hall meeting. The organizations involved included United We Dream-Tampa Bay; Tampa Dream Defenders; Tampa Students Working for Equal Rights; Polk State Students Working for Equal Rights; Tampa Bay Fair Food; and the Young American Dreamers.
About 30 Latino, Mexicano, Chicano and allied students stood at the entrance of the Temple Terrace city hall in east Hillsborough County with signs reading “Legalization for all,” “Stop tearing our families apart,” and even ones quoting Congressman Ross saying that immigration reform should “protect American citizens from invasion.” Each group united behind the demand “Legalization for all.”
Tampa Dream Defenders' Marisol Marquez said, “What we are demanding in Florida is legalization for all. And that includes three very specific pillars for real immigration reform because for far too long immigrants keep being deported and treated as slaves while in the U.S. The tearing apart of these beautiful families has to end now.” The three pillars she is referring to are full legalization for all undocumented immigrants, no second-class guest worker programs, and the demilitarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.
While students held signs outside the town hall meeting, a smaller group of students went into the meeting itself to confront Ross. Jacky Cruz of United We Dream-Tampa Bay asked Ross, “Do you support a humane immigration reform?” to which he agreed in front of cameras. Later, after the cameras were off and Cruz asked him again and Ross responded with a firm “No.” Others asked the Congressman questions about his racist anti-immigrant agenda. Ross repeatedly avoided the questions and even interrupted one of the activists as she was attempting to ask her question.
Towards the end of the meeting students positioned themselves at both visible entrances to the town hall meeting. Dennis Ross, however, was snuck out through a third exit, accompanied by Temple Terrace Police. He escaped down the street while activists chanted and yelled, demanding answers and justice.
As one student representing Tampa Bay SDS, Tefa Galvis, put it, “What makes you superior to us, Dennis Ross? You are as well a product of immigration from the 17th century. So if we all must go home, you must go back to Scotland, the country of your ancestors, too!”
The fact remains that what both the Democratic and Republican parties call Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) simply does not match up with what is needed for the people of the community. They support guest worker programs which will forever enslave immigrants, temporary legal status for English speakers, pushing people to join the military, fingerprint and immigrant databases, and even provisions to add more firepower and army presence to the border. Despite a daily average of 1100 deportations, there is yet to be any mention of legalization for the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. The time is now; we must all demand legalization for all.