Work stoppages, rallies support ‘A Day Without Immigrants’ in protest of DeSantis law

“He stirred a hornet’s nest he shouldn’t have gotten involved with,” said a plant nursery owner as he slammed the immigration law signed by Florida’s Republican governor.


HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Farmworkers didn't show up to work, plant nursery owners closed for the day and many businesses didn't open to the public in a show of solidarity.

A national boycott dubbed “Un Día Sin Inmigrantes,” or “A day without immigrants,” took place Thursday as a protest against a Florida immigration law scheduled to take effect in July.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who recently announced he's running as a Republican presidential candidate, last month signed into law SB-1718, which includes penalties for certain employers if they don't verify a worker's immigration status and for those who transport people who are undocumented, among other provisions.

It also requires Florida hospitals that accept Medicaid include a citizenship question on forms, thus discouraging many immigrants from getting medical care.

“Who’s to blame? Only the governor, because he stirred a hornet’s nest he shouldn’t have gotten involved with,” said William De La Cruz, whose Eagle Nursery in Homestead closed its doors Thursday.

“[DeSantis] also eats from the produce that immigrants pick,” the owner told Noticias Telemundo in an interview.

Protests were scheduled in Florida and at least eight other states, including California, Georgia, Minnesota, Illinois, Oregon, Texas, South Carolina and Colorado.

In downtown Los Angeles, near the historic Placita Olvera, a group of protesters gathered to denounce SB-1718 and “demand dignity, respect, and a path to citizenship for ALL!,” the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, or CHIRLA, tweeted. “We are not one, we are not 100, we are millions, count us right,” a video depicting a crowd chanting in unison and in Spanish showed.

In Florida, some immigrant families, mostly Latinos, have left the state and others are debating whether or not to do the same before the law takes effect. 

“We’re feeling the impact because there are families who have been moving to different states, fleeing from this nefarious and arbitrary law that really destroys a lot of families,” Jesús Rojas, who closed his two Peruvian restaurants in Orlando on Thursday, told Noticias Telemundo.

A nursery worker of Mexican heritage who asked to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions told WTVJ, an NBC affiliate in Miami, “We basically have to flee, flee like if we were criminals and we’re not — on the contrary, we’re here to work.”

Following the passage of SB-1718, unconfirmed viral videos surfaced online depicting empty construction sites, businesses and agricultural fields. Latino truckers nationwide took to TikTok advocating other truckers boycott Florida. 

The Florida Trucking Association told NBC News in a statement Thursday that they knew about the videos that had gone viral but were not aware of any issues impacting the state, according to CEO and President Alix Miller.

“A day without immigrants” came almost a week after a protest organized by WeCount!, a local organization advocating for immigrant workers, in the agricultural town of Homestead. The event saw a turnout of more than 2,000 people outside Homestead City Hall expressing their opposition to the new law.