Florida Rep. Sabatini refuses to delete false tweet on migrant workers

News 6 obtained visas, notified Rep. Sabatini’s office

MAITLAND, Fla. – Two days and thousands of likes and retweets later, Florida State Rep. Anthony Sabatini’s tweet calling migrant workers recorded on video bussed to a Maitland hotel “illegals” and demanding it to “stop” and “deport them immediately” is still on the representative’s Twitter page.

On Monday, News 6 confirmed the workers are legal with the mayor of Apopka, the city where the migrants will work, and Dewar Nurseries, which has hired the workers.

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“I have no doubt that the mayor of Apopka and these other officials are saying these are H2-A workers, then they actually are,” Sabatini said.

But Sabatini, a conservative Republican representing Lake County’s District 32 in the Florida House of Representatives, said he would only clarify the tweet if he sees the visas that authorize the migrants.

“Once one of the articles publishes that shows the H2-A visa documents, I’m going to attach that [to the Tweet],” Sabatini said. “Once again, super-weird coincidence that out of the one million illegal immigrants we have in the state of Florida, this one occurrence would actually be people who are here legally.”

[RELATED: Apopka nursery speaks out in defense of its employees legally brought to US to work]

Sabatini is also a candidate for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that currently represents Maitland, where the migrants are staying at an Extended Stay hotel.

News 6 obtained the visa from the owner of Dewar Nurseries and from the U.S. Department of Labor, where you can see the visa for yourself. The visa is a public record.

The address on the visa coincides with the Maitland hotel where the workers were dropped off by bus in the video that Sabatini retweeted.

[ RELATED: What is an H2-A visa? How migrant workers are able to legally work in Florida ]

Sabatini’s now-debunked tweet has been retweeted more than 1,600 times and liked by more than 2,800 people.

Some commented that they planned to protest after seeing the video. A crowd of people showed up at the Maitland hotel on Monday to protest the workers.

“I think your take is really misleading,” Sabatini said. “Whether these exact people were here illegally doesn’t affect in any way, shape or form the current policy of 1 million illegal immigrants in the state of Florida and the federal government which facilitates that.”

A spokesperson for Sabatini confirmed that she forwarded News 6′s email to Sabatini, notifying him that we obtained the visas, and asking if Sabatini will now remove or modify the tweet. Sabatini has not responded.

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.