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Civil rights groups warn tourists against Florida following ‘hostile’ laws

ORLANDO, Florida — Over the weekend, the NAACP issued a travel advisory for Florida, joining two other civil rights groups in warning would-be tourists that recent laws and policies championed by Governor Ron DeSantis and lawmakers of Florida are “openly hostile to African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people.” .”

The NAACP, long an advocate for black Americans, has joined the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a Latin American civil rights organization, and Equality Florida, a gay rights group, to issue travel advisories for the Sunshine State, where tourism is one of the largest employment sectors in the state.

The warning approved Saturday by the NAACP Board of Directors tells tourists that before traveling to Florida, they should understand that the State of Florida “devalues ​​and marginalizes the contributions and challenges faced by African-Americans. Americans and other communities of color”.

An email was sent Sunday morning to DeSantis’ office seeking comment. DeSantis is expected to announce a run for the GOP presidential nomination this week.

Florida is one of the most popular states in the United States for tourists, and tourism is one of its biggest industries. More than 137.5 million tourists visited Florida last year, marking a return to pre-pandemic levels, according to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency. Tourism supports 1.6 million full-time and part-time jobs, and visitors spent $98.8 billion in Florida in 2019, last year’s figures are available.

The NAACP’s decision comes after the DeSantis administration rejected the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American Studies course in January. DeSantis and Republican lawmakers also pushed for measures banning state colleges from having programs on diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as critical race theory, and also passed the Stop WOKE law which restricts certain conversations and analyzes based on race in schools and businesses.

In its warning to Hispanic travelers considering a visit to Florida, LULAC cited a new law that prohibits local governments from providing money to organizations that issue ID cards to people illegally in the country and invalidates driver’s licenses. foreigners detained by undocumented immigrants, among others. The law also requires hospitals accepting Medicaid to include a citizenship question on admission forms, which critics say is intended to deter immigrants living illegally in the United States from seeking medical care.

“The actions taken by Governor DeSantis have created a shadow of fear within communities across the state,” said Lydia Medrano, LULAC Vice President for the Southeast Region.

Recent efforts to limit discussion of LGBTQ topics in schools, the removal of books with gay characters from school libraries, a recent ban on gender-affirming care for minors, new restrictions on access to abortion and a law allowing Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a permit contributed to Equality Florida’s warning.

“Taken in total, Florida’s slate of laws and policies targeting fundamental rights and freedoms pose a serious risk to the health and safety of those traveling in the state,” the Equality adviser said. Florida.


Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at @MikeSchneiderAP

ABC News

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