Floridians are looking to join in on a host of nationwide immigration protests happening today.
So far, about 300 protests across the country, including in Fort Myers, have been organized as a way to speed up deportations of illegal, unaccompanied minors from Central America.
“Illegal immigration is very damaging to the United States,” said Dave Caulkett, vice-president of Floridians for Immigration Enforcement. “It’s simple. It’s the law. If we’re not going to follow the laws, then we have anarchists. They’re not supposed to violate our borders and they are.”
Thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, along with other anti-illegal immigration groups, will be protesting locally from 11 am.-2 p.m. today on the Edison Bridge.
The protestors also are against the sheltering of unaccompanied minors, who are being placed in centers across the country as they await immigration proceedings.
Facilities will be announced when they are identified as viable options, said Kenneth Wolfe, deputy director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Administration for Children and Families for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“This is a humanitarian crisis and the problem is we’re dealing with children,” said Ricardo Skerett, a Fort Myers-based immigration attorney. “Usually when we’re dealing with children the state takes into consideration the best interest of the child and I think that should be the standard here regardless if they’re U.S. citizens or undocumented. They’re still children.”
But there is a lot of anger built up over this issue, Caulkett said, noting the priority should be controlling the nation’s borders.
“This surge is going to have dire ramifications,” he said, noting it’ll only add to more illegal immigration.
The sentiment seems to be reflected in a recent Pew Research Center survey that found 53 percent of American support speeding up the legal process for dealing with children who cross the border illegally, even if that means some who are eligible for asylum are deported.
As for the protests, Caulkett said there hasn’t been much time to organize the rallies and he is unsure of how many will turn out for the Fort Myers rally. He’s attending one in Fort Lauderdale.
11 a.m.-2 p.m. today
Edison Bridge, southbound lane, Fort Myers