Pro-Immigrant Protesters Shut Down Downtown Miami Streets Last Night to Save TPS

Pro-Immigrant Protesters Shut Down Downtown Miami Streets Last Night to Save TPS
Courtesy of Tomas Kennedy

Donald Trump's election in 2016 famously sparked mass protests all over the world, including Miami, a city previously known for lackadaisical activism and a population that doesn't enjoy taking to the streets if the weather is too hot, too cold, or just warm enough to go to the beach. The city's newfound protest spirit even prompted a few news pieces.

Well, following Trump's series of racist remarks about immigrant communities such as Miami's, a group of 50 to 100 protesters briefly shut down streets in downtown Miami last night. During rush hour around 6:30 p.m., the crowd bottlenecked commuters at SE Second Avenue and Second Street, next to a busy bridge that crosses the Miami River.

The protest — led by local labor and immigrant-rights groups including Florida's chapter of the Service Employees International Union, the New Florida Majority, Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami, the Florida Immigrant Coalition, and the Florida Student Power Network — began at 4:45 p.m. outside the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, better known as Miami-Dade County Hall. Immigrant-rights leaders, including prominent Haitian-immigrant advocate Marleine Bastien of Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami, shouted through a bullhorn that the president cannot revoke refugee protections for hundreds of thousands of people and call Haiti, El Salvador, and every African nation "shithole countries" and expect Miamians to remain quiet. The protesters explicitly demanded added temporary protected status (TPS) for the Haitian, Salvadoran, and Honduran immigrants Trump plans to deport next year. The group also demands Congress pass a full DREAM Act to protect undocumented people brought to the United States as children.

They'd also like Trump and his defenders, such as human troll and North Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, to stop making transparently racist comments about black and brown people.

"We are facing a racist, xenophobic, misogynist, homophobic administration, which is criminalizing immigrants and deporting people who have been living here and contributing for 30 or 40 years," Bastien shouted as the crowd began to form. "What does the Trump administration have to gain by deporting a Mexican living here for 30 years who is a grandfather? What does it have to gain? Tell me?"

"Nothing!" the crowd shouted in response.

"What does the Trump administration have to gain for deporting a Haitian who has been living here for 40 years, guys? Who is gainfully employed, and is a father of four children? What do they have to gain?" she continued.

"Nothing!" the crowd answered.
Bastien also complained that basic rules and regulations to help TPS recipients such as the 24,000 Haitian immigrants living in the Miami metro area because of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, have not been posted clearly online. She says she persuaded Florida Sen. Bill Nelson today to send the Trump administration a letter demanding TPS recipients be given clearer advice on applying for work permits or other protections. (The Trump administration likely won't acquiesce.)

The group then unfurled a massive red banner declaring they're "Here to stay!" and began marching down Biscayne Boulevard. When they reached the intersections near the Miami River, they hooked right and finally stopped at the aforementioned intersection near the Brickell Bridge. Traffic nearby ground to a halt.

"We will remember in November!" one protester shouted. "We want to make sure we understand that we're watching. We're listening. We see what they're doing and what they aren't doing protecting our families — and that we will remember in November."
The group then took a knee while police frantically blew their whistles in the background.

"We are occupying downtown Miami to send a message to let people know: We shall not be moved until justice is done!" one leader shouted.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.