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Miami Venezuelans concerned over DeSantis' treatment of migrants

Local Venezuelan community expresses frustration as immigration policies spark controversy.

The Venezuelan community in Miami is raising concerns about the treatment of migrants under the immigration policies implemented by Governor Ron DeSantis. As tensions rise and controversy swirls, Venezuelans living in Miami have expressed frustration over the perceived lack of empathy and support for those seeking refuge.

However, some Venezuelans support DeSantis’ stance on immigration. More details are given below.

Some Venezuelans express frustration

Senate Bill 1718 overturns driver’s licenses of immigrants unable to prove their legal status. It also requires Medicaid-accepting hospitals to ask for the immigration status of patients. Even transporting those immigrants is a felony punishable by up to 15 years of imprisonment. Employers are also required to confirm the employment eligibility of their workers via E-Verify if they have over 25 employees.

As a result, the 545,000 Venezuelan population is second-guessing their support for the hardline conservative. Many Venezuelans are sharing stories and concerns about the emotional impact of these policies.

Angelo Gomez is one of those immigrants who fled the clutches of colectivos, the Venezuelan paramilitary. His sister, Angie Saurez, paid for his airfare, but the new law will change his employment status. Saurez has been doing the flower-picking job, but her supervisor has told her to return only when she has a work permit which might take another year. Unfortunately, she cannot wait that long.

She said the government isn’t giving them tools to expedite the process. Instead, they’re cornering them. Sharing in the same sentiment is Heiddy Tijera, mother of a 16-year-old daughter, who said her family is considering moving despite their temporary lawful status. She called this new law xenophobic stating that the government is playing with vulnerable people, and it says more about the politicians than those arriving illegally.

People standing for in respect for national Anthem with their hands on their hearts

A community divide

Unlike many local Venezuelans, Patricia Andrade doesn’t blame the governor for his immigration policies. As a fan of his stance on abortion, Covid-19, and LGBTQ+ rights, she iterated that she has no problem with this legislation.

As a founder of the Venezuela Awareness Foundation, she wants to support local Venezuelans. Knowing what happened in Texas, she said DeSantis doesn’t want the same to happen to Sunshine State. She also added that it’s Biden’s job to vet for immigrants.

However, other immigrants demand respect for immigrants as they marched on Saturday to protest against the bill. According to the director of the American Business Immigration Coalition, this law is creating a new narrative that states that Florida isn’t a place for those seeking asylum. This can affect the economy but also divide the Venezuelan community in Miami.  

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