State immigration law leads to protests on Hathaway Bridge

If you saw flags waving on the Hathaway Bridge this morning, it's part of a statewide worker strike, related to a new Florida law.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:36 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - If you saw flags waving on the Hathaway Bridge on Thursday morning, you’re not alone.

Protesters used their country’s flag to signal their frustration against new Florida law.

“We shouldn’t be treated differently,” said Pablo Morales, a protestor. “We should all be treated the same. It is just disrespectful to us to be treated terribly.”

The law makes using E-Verify mandatory for any employer with 25 or more employees, which is an online system where employers can confirm the eligibility of their employees.

It also penalizes those employing illegal immigrants and toughens punishment for human smuggling.

People at the protest Thursday morning say it unfairly targets immigrants.

“We are here peacefully, we are just working people, working class, working people and we just want the best for all of us,” said Wanda Martinez.

Supporters of the law say it protects state resources for law abiding citizens.

“We pay rent,” said Alejandr Herrera. “We pay bills. No one is taking anything for free.”

They say they also keep the country going as worker shortages continue.

“We love this country because we are hard workers and because America needs labor that’s why we are here,” said Javier Morales, a protestor.

“We feel that everything’s being done we are being oppressed and we are here just to work,” said Martinez.

The law is set to take effect July 1st.