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Tampa, FL demands “Licenses for all!”

By staff

Tampa protest demands “Licenses for all."

Tampa, FL – Braving rain and traffic, people from across the Tampa Bay area rallied outside City Hall, demanding “Driver’s licenses for all undocumented!” Over 30 protesters held up umbrellas, signs and a banner reading, “Licencias ahora, licenses now!”

Led by Raíces en Tampa, a community group, the protesters are organizing to pass a Tampa City Council resolution in support of licenses for the undocumented. Last month, they organized a call-in day to City Council members. Now they are out in the neighborhoods gathering signatures for a statewide petition. Today’s event urged city council members to attend. Unfortunately, city council members were attending a banquet.

Ana Lamb, one of the protesters, said, “Is this what tax dollars go to? Fancy banquets instead of licenses?”

Right now, there are an estimated 1 million undocumented immigrants in the state of Florida and over 11 million in the U.S. Most states, like Florida, do not allow the undocumented to have licenses. Still, many drive to jobs, school, hospitals, houses of worship and other places. This puts many at risk for fines, arrest, detention and deportation. In fact, most deportations result from being pulled over without a license. In the U.S. there are approximately 1100 deportations each day. President Obama has amassed over 2 million deportations during his term.

Jared Hamil, with Raíces en Tampa, spoke to the crowd, “We want an end to deportations now. We want the politicians in Tallahassee and those here in Tampa like Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the city council to support ‘Driver’s Licenses for All’ in Florida. We need Governor Rick Scott, who vetoed a bill last year that would’ve given DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] recipients their driver’s licenses, to stand with us, or get out of the way! The politicians must act and give us ‘Licenses for all!’”

LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), Student-Farmworker Alliance, and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) all joined the protest. People from the neighboring cities of Largo, Clearwater and Saint Petersburg drove in to attend. Several police cars were present as police watched from across the street. When protesters came to the doors of City Hall, they taped a giant letter, signed by all the protesters and addressed to the politicians of Tampa, urging them to support licenses for the undocumented.

At the close of the rally, Marisol Marquez of Raíces en Tampa announced, “We need everyone to join this cause!” Marquez continued, “We want people in their own cities to take up this issue. We want them to organize for driver’s licenses and an end to deportations! Our first step is licenses, our big goal is legalization for all.”

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