Are truckers really boycotting Florida over Gov DeSantis’ immigration policies?

‘I’m aware of the reports, but have not heard of any issues,’ truckers’ group says

John Bowden
Washington DC
Friday 19 May 2023 17:08 BST
Ron DeSantis blows up at reporter over question about Guantanamo Bay prisoner claims

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In recent days, social media has been flooded with videos of truck drivers claiming they are boycotting Florida after the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, signed into law a strict immigration enforcement bill.

According to the social media posts, truckers across the United States had decided en masse to cease deliveries to the Sunshine State, citing the tough immigration policies. One TikToker who made a video about his own concerns about the law, sanchezmanuel33, told The Independent that he thought “thousands” of truckers were participating.

However, it does not appear that such a mass demonstration has been taking place as of yet.

The Florida Trucking Association, which lobbies on behalf of the state’s trucking industry at the Florida statehouse, was able to shed some light on the situation. The group’s president told The Independent that she was aware of the TikTok videos but as of yet was not noticing any impacts on trucking businesses operating in the state.

“I’m aware of the reports, but have not heard of any issues,” Alix Miller said.

Other news reports indicate that there were no shortages reported at grocery stores in the state as of yet. One immigrants’ rights advocate who spoke to a local Florida news outlet said that she had spoken to several local organisations about pulling together a possible boycott, but those plans had not materialised so far.

A series of TikTok videos quickly spread across left-leaning accounts on Twitter, boasting of a looming boycott. One TikTok video of a man recording a line of empty store shelves at a grocery store was viewed hundreds of thousands of times as evidence of shortages supposedly cropping up in the state.

Aiding the growing story was a series of TikToks from individual truckers making bold claims about how they themselves would participate in a boycott, circulated on Twitter by an independent journalist focused on the immigration beat. His thread has been viewed more than 3 million times.

“Do not enter Florida. Let’s support immigrants. What they’re doing in Florida is not okay. I’m going to say it again, I won’t enter Florida and neither will my truck. Let’s not pretend like we’re not all immigrants here,” one driver said in Spanish on TikTok.

“Look at all the truck drivers here, there are long long lines. If we stand together and say ‘F*** it, we are not going to Florida.’ Let’s see who is going to bring (goods) to Florida? ... There’s more being imported to Florida than being exported. If we don’t bring anything to Floridians, what are they going to do? What’s the governor going to do?” another driver added.

Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also appeared to voice support for a trucker boycott.

“Anti-immigrant policies reap what they sow. DeSantis’ Florida is about to find that out,” she said on Twitter, adding, “No más. Time to stop biting the hands that feed.”

The issue has even received media coverage: A local newspaper, the Tallahassee Democrat, covered the TikToks and explained the basics of the immigration law, adding that “we don’t know for sure that (drivers) are” boycotting the state.

A review of various Publix locations – Florida’s largest supermarket chain – across the state indicated no service disruptions or shortages, and there was no evidence on social media of any stores with empty shelves beyond the one TikTok filmed by a user named “PJ’s Journey”.

The Independent has contacted a number of grocery chains in the state and made multiple attempts to reach Publix for comment.

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