Florida Immigrant Coalition

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The Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) is a statewide coalition of more than 65 member organizations and over 100 allies, founded in 1998 and formally incorporated in 2004 .We are led by our membership – grassroots and community organizations, farmworkers, youth, advocates, lawyers, unions and others.

More than an organization, FLIC has become a hub for a bold, agile and strategic multi-racial, intergenerational social movement. We work together for the fair treatment of all people, including immigrants. With staff in five counties, and members throughout Florida, FLIC’s leadership builds depth in local communities, breadth for statewide reach and national alignment.

Our unique power-building model has contributed to our movement’s cohesion, direction, and impact. In a short period and with modest investment, we’ve evolved from episodic, tactical mobilizations to a more sophisticated, strategic and impactful organization. While still emerging, we have become a growing force in Florida.

CAIR connection

Florida Immigrant Coalition October 13 2018:

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Good conversation tonight with CAIR - Florida, The New Florida Majority and the ACLU of Florida on what advocacy means in these difficult times. — with Tomas Kennedy and Dwight Bullard at Islamic Center of Greater Miami-Masjid Miami Gardens.

Endorsing Gillum

In its very first candidate endorsement, FLIC Votes endorses Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for the 2018 Florida governor’s race. This year’s gubernatorial race might be the state’s most critical race, and Gillum has continually stood on the side of immigrants. When Miami-Dade County became the first metro area to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers after Trump signed an executive order threatening jurisdictions, Gillum publicly spoke out against Mayor Carlos Gimenez. He stood with our members who went on a hunger strike to protest the decision. And Andrew Gillum stood up to Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran after he released a racist ad depicting immigrants as criminals, challenging Corcoran to a debate regarding his now defeated HB9 bill, which would have criminalized immigrant families across the state.
Gillum’s words and actions have shown him to be an empathetic leader who has supported policies that elevate and protect our communities. Gillum has also expressed enthusiastic support for the Second Chances campaign, which would restore the right to vote to over 1.4 million Floridians who have been disenfranchised due to prior felony convictions. Gillum understands the importance of this campaign on a personal level, as his own brothers are returning citizens who would benefit from Second Chances. Florida needs a Governor who understands the issues that everyday Floridians are facing and who is willing to take bold actions to stand up for them.

The following is a statement from Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida candidate for governor:

“In 2018, immigrants are under attack, and they need a Governor to stand in the gap for them. I’m deeply honored to receive the endorsement of FLIC Votes in our race to take back Florida and make it a place where everyone is welcome — no matter what they look like. I’m running for Governor to help every Florida family have access to the same opportunities my siblings and I had, and the Florida Immigrant Coalition will be an integral partner in that fight when I’m Governor.”

The following is a statement from Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director of FLIC Votes:

“Once you meet Andrew Gillum, you are impressed not by his millions, but by his manner. His willingness to stand with the most marginalized and exploited, while building unity, speaks to his courage and commitment to our shared values. FLIC Votes joins the growing momentum towards victory, not just for Andrew Gillum as the most likely governor representing the interest of all the people, but for the energizing impact his candidacy will have with disenchanted voters to come out and revive our ailing democracy for the benefit of all Floridians.”

The following is a statement from former State Senator Dwight Bullard, FLIC Votes board member:

“Andrew Gillum’s commitment to make Florida a welcoming place for all people regardless of race, creed or national origin has extended past his candidacy for Governor. He understands more than his counterparts that Florida can only be as good as it’s treatment of others and that is why I was happy to support his endorsement by FLIC Votes.”[1]

Statewide Alliance Group

From JoHanna Thompson writing on the Freedom Road Socialist Organization's website:

Despite his position on anti-BDS legislation, Gillum seemed like someone who comrades could work with in office.
Falling in line with the New Confederacy, DeSantis was less concerned with changing liberal minds than attacking liberal ideologies, making inaccurate associations of his opponent, and getting conservative voters to the polls.
One door hanger asked the question, “Does this sound familiar?” It depicted a picture of a street mural, by a local artist, of Andrew Gillum. Underneath the picture were the words, “Andrew Gillum: Another Big Government, Socialist Dictator” followed by three more street murals of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Fidel Castro, and Hugo Chavez. It boldly proclaimed, “Don’t let the socialists take over Florida! Republicans must vote, there’s too much at stake.”

On one hand, the door hanger was laughable, while on the other, it spoke to the intentional decision of grassroots organizations and a union to work collectively as Statewide Alliance Group. SWAG specifically consists of: The New Florida Majority, Dream Defenders, Organize Florida, Florida Immigrant Coalition, SEIU, Faith in Florida, and Central Florida Jobs with Justice.

The Dream Defenders (DD) took a deep dive in community to create an ideology reminiscent of the Black Panther Party Ten Point Program with seven freedoms. DD launched the #freedompapers, claiming #thisistheyear, focusing on building with community to target private prison corporations, like GEO Group, and transform the Florida political landscape.

Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) along with Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and United We Dream focused on immigrant rights and abolishing ICE. The New Florida Majority (NFM), SEIU, Faith in Florida, Jobs with Justice, and the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) Electoral Justice Project appealed to their vast membership bases.
In addition, the Miami Workers Center (MWC) centered the Movement for Black Women and Girls with Soul Sista’s. Power U Center for Social Change continues to inform youth. Community Justice Project (CJP) supported Poetry for the People’s, Maroon Poetry Festival, which amplified the Black Arts Movement and use of art in activism.
The age old social justice organizations such as NAACP, ACLU, Faith in Florida, PACT, and the likes, also joined the effort to get Amendment 4 passed. All used the same messaging in their conversations which advocated for a Yes Vote on Amendment 4. The strategy was to restore the rights of over 1.4 million voters as freedom voters.

It was a brilliant, coordinated strategy in alignment and consistent communication that is beginning to consolidate a united front against the New Confederacy in Florida.[2]

In gratitude

We are forever grateful to David Skovholt, Tomas Zamorano, Cheryl Little, Arthur Rosenberg, Juan Carlos Zapata, Margarita Zalamea, Troy Elder, Terry Coble, Lupe Lopez, Jose Lagos, Anna Fink, and the founding board members: Marlon Gonzalez, Lukner Millien, Elvira Menjivar, Marleine Bastien, Herman Martinez, Ernesto Sanchez, Winnie Cantave, Winnie Tang, and many others we may have failed to mention who laid a solid foundation and vision for our work.[3]

Opposing "Muslim ban"

Representatives from CAIR - Florida announced late January 2017, that they were filing a federal lawsuit against President Donald Trump, in response to his executive orders barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country over the weekend.

The lawsuit is filed from 20 plaintiffs, including CAIR - Florida Chief Executive Director Hassan Shibly and other activists, lawyers and representatives from civil rights organizations, and it claims Trump’s orders were unconstitutional against both the First and Fifth amendments.

In Orlando, Rasha Mubarak with CAIR called the orders “discriminatory, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-Muslim,” and decried them for trying to “criminalize groups of people in an attempt to galvanize the American people.

Speakers recounted both personal stories and tales of helping people at the Orlando International Airport last weekend during the confusion immediately following the ban. Ida Eskamani, an aide to Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, said her own grandmother, who is 84 years old, has now been prohibited from entering the United States.

Alex Barrio, District Director for Sen. Darren Soto, recalled an Iranian UCF student going for a PhD who has been barred from returning due to the executive order.

Other speakers, like Isabel Vinent with the Florida Immigrant Coalition, blasted the United States’ foreign policy even before Trump.[4]

FLIC rally in Orlando

With DACA recipients pleading, sometimes in tears, for the right to stay in the United States where they grew up, a coalition of pro-immigration groups and Democratic lawmakers gathered on Orlando City Hall’s front steps September 2017 to denounce President Donald Trump‘s phased-out repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

At the same time, the groups and the young, undocumented immigrants called for the widespread immigration reform that Trump demanded Congress pursue with the end of DACA in sight.

They reacted to Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ announcement that the White House was ending enrollments in DACA immediately and those currently enrolled would have six months, with the challenge that Congress would pass immigration reform in that period.

While Sessions and Trump essentially set the table for full immigration reform, those gathered in Orlando offered no trust offered for them or their intentions.

“Since the administration came into office, the immigration rhetoric has been hateful. It has been divisive. And we don’t stand for it,” said Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez, lead organizer and membership coordinator for the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

The gathering at Orlando City Hall, organized by the Florida Immigrant Coalition, included scores of representatives of immigration groups, labor unions, Hispanic groups, CAIR - Florida, progressive groups, and Democratic state Sens. Victor Torres and Linda Stewart of Orlando, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando, and a representative of U.S. Rep. Darren Soto.[5]

Board of Directors

As of December 10, 2017;[6]

Staff

As of December 10, 2017;[7]

FLIC family

Tomas Kennedy July 28 2018:

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‪The crew that’s going to radically change Florida politics. Florida Immigrant Coalition family.‬ — with Laura Estefania Munoz Quinones, Carlos Valnera, Lolalegriamaria Rodz, Paula Munoz, Isabel Vinent Grimany, Yaquelin Mela Lopez, Nery Lopez, Marleine Bastien, Mahrye Perez, Jasmen M. Rogers-Shaw, Julio Calderon and Tessa Petit.

FLIC supporters

Tomas KennedyJanuary 28 2018:

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‪Love is possible. #CleanDreamAct #DreamActNow #SaveTPS‬ — with Lorena Jofre, Lorena Tevalam, Roberto Benavides, Paula Munoz, Nery Lopez, Mariantonieta Chavez, Maria Angelica Ramirez Barrera and Maria Asuncion Bilbao at Florida Immigrant Coalition.

FLIC and allies

Florida Immigrant Coalition April 21 2018:

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Powerful experience and powerful connections with members and guests from Farmworker Association of Florida, YAYA - National Farm Worker Ministry, Florida Student Power Network, QLatinx, UNITE HERE Central Florida, Central Florida AFL- CIO, We Are All America, Organize Florida, FL HeretoStay, SEIU Florida, WeCount, Coqui Language Collective, Palm Beach County Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Miami Workers Center, Florida KIDS COUNT and more! — with Aashutosh Pyakuryal, Curtis Hierro, Tomas Kennedy, Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez, Mike Thom, Mike V. Cocco, Denise Diaz and Tessa Petit in Apopka, Florida.

References