Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

On DACA anniversary, Kathy Castor to award select group of immigrants

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor is scheduled to host a town-hall meeting on immigration issues Tuesday night at Alonso High School in Town N’ Country.

Tuesday is the fifth anniversary of the implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which protects certain undocumented youth from deportation. Nearly 800,000 young people have benefited from the program since it was implemented by President Obama in 2012.

Castor will begin the evening by hosting what she’s calling the “American Dream Awards,” signaling out four different immigrants who have made significant contributions inside her 14th Congressional District.

The four individuals who are slated to receive the awards are:

Victor Fernandez (educator) – Originally from Spain, Fernandez served as an educator for Hillsborough County Public School for 35 years. For more than 20 years, he served as assistant principal and principal at Pierce Junior High School and Leto High School, which have some of the largest population of Hispanic students. He has received numerous recognitions as an educator, but his legacy is his tough love and respect for his students. He is retired, but continues to serve as a mentor in education.

Maria Jimenez (health care) – Originally from the Dominican Republic, Maria has been a Healthcare Navigator through the University of South Florida since 2013 and a leader in Tampa Bay in making the Affordable Care Act work for Spanish-speaking families and small businesses since the law’s implementation. Maria has volunteered her time in programs that enrich the community from an early age including Head Start, elementary schools and Tampa’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). In addition, she has served as a community board member at the Family Support and Resource Center. Her community-based approach includes working with local consulate(s), attending citizenship ceremonies, or attending and providing information to partners that focus on services for newly immigrated families. As a case in point, thanks to her enterprising efforts and close ties to Spanish-speaking consumers, the U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services came to Tampa Bay to feature her work as a national model of how the Affordable Care Act can benefit minority small businesses.

Carlos Jose Peralta (media): A popular radio personality on Spanish-language AM stations since 1977, Carlos came to Tampa from Cuba, graduated from Robinson High School and attended Hillsborough Community College. During his time on the radio, he would regularly announce toy drives for local hospitals and inform Hispanic listeners about job openings. He was the music director for 92.5 Maxima FM until 2011 and is the former host of “Buenos Días Latino” at Mega TV Florida. Carlos continues to selflessly serve Tampa and Florida as the Community Outreach Coordinator at Lutheran Services Florida.

Roberto Torres (entrepreneur): Torres is the cofounder and managing partner of Black & Denim Apparel Company & The Blind Tiger Café in Tampa. Originally from Panama, he won a local business competition that provided the startup funds he needed to create his clothing line. Blind Tiger Cafe and its attached workspace, CoWork Tampa, grew out of the clothing line. Now, Blind Tiger has two locations and a third is being developed. Last year he launched a corporate coffee cart program at the Blind Tiger Cafe, where businesses pay a monthly fee for the cafe to provide coffee services for the entire office.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has led the fight to shut down DACA, saying Obama broke the law by acting unilaterally to implement the policy outside of congressional approval. He has said that if President Trump doesn’t agree to a phase-out by Sept. 5, he and his allied attorneys general will file a lawsuit.


Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at [email protected]

Latest from The Bay and the 'Burg

Go to Top