TAMPA — A newly formed immigrant-rights organization is pushing for a change in state law that would allow undocumented residents to get a driver’s license.
The organization, Raices en Tampa, which translates to Roots in Tampa, is asking the city of Tampa to support the group’s resolution calling for the change in drivers license rules. Once city officials support the initiative, the group can then encourage state legislators to also get behind the movement, said Marisol Marquez, one of the group’s founders.
The organization says that approach worked in Illinois and California, where undocumented workers are allowed to get driver’s licenses.
Members of the group held a press conference outside Tampa City Hall on Wednesday afternoon and plan to hold a rally at 6 p.m. on Feb. 26 in the same location.
Jared Hamil, a founder of the group, said they spoke at a city council meeting last year and council members seemed to be supportive of the cause. But when they contacted legislative aides for city council members, they were told to contact Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Hamil said.
They contacted Buckhorn’s office but never received a call back, Hamil said.
“Tampa has a large immigrant community,” Hamil said. “They (city officials) should do a lot more than remain silent.”
Buckhorn is traveling back to Tampa from India on Wednesday and couldn’t be reached for comment.
Two city council members said they remember hearing from a person from a group advocating for the rights of undocumented workers to get a driver’s license.
Councilman Frank Reddick said the council suggested that the group contact Buckhorn’s office because the city has a strong-mayor form of government.