Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Politics

Politicians in Tampa protest Scott's immigration veto

TAMPA — When he was 18, Carlos Segovia wanted to take his girlfriend on a date.

They went to the theater and tried to buy tickets to an R-rated movie. The ticket-taker asked for an ID. He didn't have one.

"You wouldn't think about that," he said Tuesday at a news conference.

Segovia, 20, is an undocumented immigrant. His parents brought him to the United States from Mexico City when he was just 1 year old.

He wants to get a driver's license and would have been able to under a state bill passed almost unanimously this spring. But Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the bill last week.

"This is a blatant slap in the face to my constituents in District 62 and the Hispanic community," state Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said at the news conference Tuesday. "Where is Gov. Ricardo Scott living?"

Tampa City Council Chairman Charlie Miranda and Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes were also present.

The bill, HB 235, would have allowed some children of undocumented immigrants who are not U.S. citizens to get a Florida driver's license through President Barack Obama's "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" policy, which was instituted last year.

HB 235 passed unanimously in the state Senate and 115-2 in the House.

In a statement released after the veto, Scott said the DACA was established "despite the federal government's inability to enforce the nation's current immigration laws or to find common ground on how to change them."

He continued, "Given that deferred action status does not confer substantive rights or lawful status upon an individual, Florida is best served by relying on current state law."

The veto comes as the U.S. Senate considers an immigration bill drafted by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" with Obama's support.

That bill would allow an easier path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The U.S. Senate voted 82-15 Tuesday to allow debate to begin on the bill. Some lawmakers say they expect a final vote by Independence Day.

Segovia, meanwhile, is left waiting.

"It's like another stop sign, it's another wall I have to get over," he said. "That's what's frustrating."

Segovia remembers as a child moving from California to Florida to Georgia to Michigan, picking crops and moving with the change in seasons. He remembers sleeping in beds with rats and cockroaches and hiding from la migra, the immigration police, in onion fields.

Today, he is studying accounting at Saint Leo University and wants to be a tax lawyer. He has lived most of his life in the United States and wants to live here legally.

"It's not my fault," Segovia said. "If I did it again, I wouldn't come across the border like my parents did. I'd do it the right way."

Times staff writer Charles Scudder can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3111.

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