1. News

Immigration activists want Tampa to be named a sanctuary city

Nanci Palacios, center, of Faith in Florida and Alin Contreras, in green, deliver a letter Monday seeking protection for immigrants to Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s spokeswoman Ashley Bauman, right.
Published Nov. 22, 2016

TAMPA — Alin Contreras is accustomed to not seeing her parents until evening. Some days, the 10-year-old girl is asleep when they get off work. Still, she has known they would return.

Come Jan. 20, when Donald Trump is sworn in as president, she doesn't expect to be so sure.

Her Polk County parents are undocumented immigrants and she said she fears they will be deported.

"I'm very scared that one day they won't be here when I get home from school," Contreras said.

She and an older brother were among a few dozen activists who delivered a letter to City Hall on Monday morning asking Mayor Bob Buckhorn to designate Tampa a "sanctuary city," a jurisdiction where local law enforcement doesn't cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

The two siblings came without their parents, Leonel and Rosalba Contreras, who were at work in construction and agriculture jobs.

"After the election we have found there are a lot of families who are very scared of what will happen to them as the current president-elect has said he would deport the immigrants who have been in this country," Nanci Palacios, an organizer with Faith in Florida, said during a news conference outside City Hall.

"We are here to seek protection from deportation, from our families being split."

Deporting undocumented immigrants was a focus of Trump's victorious campaign, and the president-elect has since stated that he will start fulfilling that promise during his first 100 days in the White House by beginning the removal of those with criminal records.

Among the speakers at the news conference was Beatrice Silva, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who described herself as a law-abiding and hardworking member of the Tampa Bay community.

Only two of her four children were born in the United States.

Silva now fears her family will be split up.

"I am here on this day asking the mayor of this city to give us protection for our families," she said through a translator. "We are all human beings and should be protected in this great nation."

Also at the news conference were undocumented immigrants currently protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Otherwise known as DACA, the policy allows for immigrants who came to the United States before June 2007 and before they turned 16 to receive a renewable two-year work permit, protecting them from deportation.

Because DACA was passed via an executive order and not through Congress, Trump can end it.

The letter presented to the mayor's office asks for a city policy prohibiting Tampa law enforcement from cooperating with any federal immigration agencies including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Custom and Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security.

It also asks that the city continues to provide services to everyone regardless of citizenship status.

Mayors in San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and Philadelphia have already declared their cities as sanctuaries.

Trump is now considering cutting federal funding to cities that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Mayor Buckhorn was in New York on Monday alongside Jeff Vinik on a media tour promoting the city.

City spokeswoman Ashley Bauman said that the mayor was made aware of the activists' request and will consider it. He returns to Tampa on Wednesday.

"We will not discriminate based on who you love, the God you worship or the color of your skin," Bauman said on behalf of Buckhorn.

Contact Paul Guzzo at or (813) 226-3394. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.


  1. Preliminary plans for a splash park in Dade City, made possible by a recent city purchase of land for the park. Dade City
    City commissioners on Tuesday agreed to purchase land for the park and looked over early plans for the site.
  2. Milwaukee Police Officer Kevin Zimmermann bought car seats for Andrella "Lashae" Jackson's two youngest children and then installed them in her car. Facebook
    But he didn’t stop there. Milwaukee Police Officer Kevin Zimmermann also installed the seats in the woman’s car.
  3. Washington Nationals' Trea Turner, right, steals second with Houston Astros' Carlos Correa covering during the first inning of Game 1 of the baseball World Series Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) MATT SLOCUM  |  AP
    It’s part of Taco Bell’s “Steal a base, Steal a Taco” promotion.
  4. Hernando County Government Center
    Neighbors worry about the impact on their equestrian community.
  5. Authorities found 29-year-old Sharee Bradley stabbed to death on Aug. 5. The chief says she had three children; the 12-year-old and 3-year-old were found safe, but Nevaeh had disappeared. Sumter Police Department/Facebook
    DNA from the remains found Friday has been matched to Nevaeh Adams, Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark told reporters.
  6. Cars back up at a Tampa intersection last October, not long before Hillsborough County voters approved a one-cent sales tax for transportation improvements. This week, local officials detailed how the money would be spent, if the tax survives a legal challenge before the Florida Supreme Court. URSO, CHRIS  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Local governments have plans for $527 million in projects. But the Florida Supreme Court would need to clear the way.
  7. FILE - In this Sunday, April 22, 2018, file photo, a statue of a chained man is on display at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a new memorial to honor thousands of people killed in racist lynchings, in Montgomery, Ala. Facing an impeachment inquiry that he and supporters claim is illegal, President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, that the process is a lynching. Some Republicans agree, but the relatives of actual lynching victims don’t. BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Made in a tweet that drew backing from some Republican supporters including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Trump’s claim was ill-informed at best and racist at worst, they said.
  8. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Damien Wiggins Jr. was found with a gunshot wound in the parking lot of a vacant business on Haines Road.
  9. FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2018 file photo, Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz listens during a status check on his case at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. As his death penalty trial draws closer, a hearing is set for school shooting defendant Cruz in the 2018 massacre that killed 17 people. The hearing Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, likely concerns the setting of timelines leading up to the planned January trial of the 21-year-old Cruz. AMY BETH BENNETT  |  AP
    The hearing Wednesday likely concerns the setting of timelines leading up to the planned January trial of the 21-year-old Cruz.
  10. FILE - This undated file photo released by the FBI shows 3-year-old Kamille McKinney, who police say has been missing since she was abducted while attending a birthday party on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Birmingham, Ala. Investigators searching through garbage found the body of McKinney, who was missing more than a week, and authorities are charging two people with murder, police said Tuesday, Oct. 22. AP
    The child, known as “Cupcake” to relatives, vanished while outside a birthday party on Oct. 12. Investigators know of no link between the suspects and the girl or her family, police say.