MIAMI — Hundreds of activists on Monday kicked off a week of protests in several Florida cities calling for the rejection of measures in the state congress that would criminalize illegal immigrants.
The Florida House of Representatives is set to consider a measure that would authorize police to ask for documents to verify a person's immigration status, and detain that person and open a criminal investigation if there is reasonable suspicion that the suspect is an illegal migrant.
A similar measure is being considered in the state senate.
Groups of activists, including immigrants, marched through Little Havana near downtown Miami on Monday to protest the measures.
Separately, farmers and students who are sons of illegal immigrants are to march from different cities on Tuesday and Wednesday to the state capital Tallahassee to increase pressure on the legislators.
"Florida has an enormous amount of investment from companies from Latin America, as well as tourists, and many of them could stop coming to this state if laws that discriminates against Latinos are implemented," said Natalia Jaramillo, a spokeswoman for the Florida Immigrant Coalition.
In mid-April a US federal court upheld the suspension of key parts of a similar immigration law approved in Arizona.
The disputed Arizona law was stripped of a controversial provision that would have given police officers the power to check the immigration status of suspected criminals.
The federal court ruled that immigration issues are the jurisdiction of the US federal government, not state governments.
In Florida, as in Arizona, the vast majority of the undocumented migrants that police could potentially detain are Hispanic.