TAMPA, Fla. — As several bills make their way through legislation, church and faith leaders are speaking out on the potential impacts of Senate Bill 1718 and House Bill 1617.
What You Need To Know
- Beth-El Farmworker Ministry has been helping the Wimauma and nearby communities for more than 20-years
- Teresita Matos-Post feels this bill will hinder the services they provide to the migrant community
- Senate Bill 1718 was sponsored by Senator Blaise Ingoglia, he appeared on Bay News 9’s Political Connections segment detailing the importance of this bill
Every Tuesday, Teresita Matos-Post and her team fill hundreds of bags with food that are given out to families in need. Or as Matos describes it, "It’s like a community coming together.”
Matos says it’s a place where people find comfort in knowing they can receive resources they need.
“I cannot relate directly to families who are undocumented, but I can certainly share with their sentiment of feeling welcome and loved and cared for," she said.
Beth-El Farmworker Ministry has served the migrant community for more than 20 years.
But immigration bills like Senate Bill 1718 look to place restrictions on organizations who aide undocumented individuals.
Matos says, “It disrupts in every sense all the ties that we could have, meaningful ties that we could have with families who are really scared for their lives."
As a faith based organization, Matos says they are a place where people gather no matter their documentation status.
She feels this legislation would hinder their way of life.
She also says it places fear in the people who attend. “For us it’s a matter of educating and talking with them about it and trying to temper a little bit.”
Senate Bill 1718 would essentially criminalize people who give rides to undocumented people and help them in any way.
It would also require businesses to ask for documentation.
“I don’t know that anybody would feel comfortable asking their neighbor, 'Hey are you a documented person here in the United States' to gauge whether or not they’re going to help their neighbor," Matos said.
Matos says she’s working to educate the community who seeks their services about the bill.
It’s being sponsored by Sen. Blaise Ingoglia. The senator appeared recently on Spectrum Bay News 9’s Political Connections. He says the goal is to pass it and then get other states on board as well.