Migrants staying at Maitland hotel are legal farm workers, Apopka mayor says

Protesters, state lawmaker claim they were illegal immigrants

MAITLAND, Fla. – Despite pronouncements to the contrary by a Central Florida lawmaker, migrants reportedly staying at a Maitland hotel are in the country legally as farmworkers.

Apopka’s mayor Bryan Nelson confirmed to News 6′s Treasure Roberts that 90 to 100 people dropped off at the Extended Stay Hotel in Maitland over the weekend all have H-2A visas, a temporary visa for agricultural workers.

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The migrants are under contract to work for Dewar Nurseries in Apopka, a large wholesale plant nursery.

The workers are under contract for up to 120 days, and most have been in the area before as migrant workers.

Attorneys issued a statement on behalf of Dewar Nurseries:

“The workers employed by Dewar Nurseries who reside at the Extended Stay Hotel in Maitland are here in the United States under the H2A Visa program. This is a long-standing, 100-percent legitimate program that allows our companies to hire the workers we need to deliver the best-quality products to our customers. Any suggestion to the contrary is mistaken.”

Online furor turned into protests outside the hotel in Maitland because people claimed the migrants were bussed into the country illegally. Protests were seen waving “Impeach Biden” flags and displaying “Let’s Go Brandon” signs, a slur used against President Biden.

Among the people perpetuating the claim was State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills. On Sunday he took to Twitter, demanding that Gov. Ron DeSantis use state law enforcement to round up and deport the workers.

It should be noted that while Sabatini says the hotel is in his district, his place of residence, Howey-in-the-Hills, is not in the same district as the hotel in Maitland, which is Congressional District 7.

However, Sabatini is running to be representative of District 7.

About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.