U/MIAMI NEWS SERVICE
While a small group of South Florida leaders gave President Barack Obama an official welcome at Miami International Airport Monday afternoon, another small group of supporters and protesters assembled outside the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, where the president spoke at a Democratic fundraiser.
On Tuesday, Obama visited a solar energy facility in Arcadia, Fla. to announce a $3.4B stimulus package that includes 100 grants to modernize the power system, according to published reports. Florida’s share is reportedly $200 million.
Outside the hotel in Miami Beach on Monday, Lucson Destinville, a representative of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, said, "We’re here to see that Obama give TPS to Haitians. We love Obama, we just want him to keep his promises."
Destinville was referring to Temporary Protected Status. The provision grants temporary immigration status to foreign nationals who live in the United States but whose countries are recognized by the U.S. as being temporarily unsafe.
Destinville, who lives in West Palm Beach, was among a scattering of organizations and individuals who voiced their opinions on a variety of issues, including health care reform and the country’s economic woes.
The president did not address a pool of reporters who watched Air Force One arrive at 5:22 p.m. Local, state and U.S. officials, including U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, U.S. Reps. Kendrick Meek and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz greeted the president, who then headed to the Fontainebleau about 10 minutes after he arrived.
Earlier in the day on Monday, on the first leg of his Florida visit, the president made a brief stop in Jacksonville. There, he visited the city’s Naval base and spoke to 3,500 servicemen and women. He used the time to encourage the members of the base and to acknowledge the 14 U.S military personnel who were killed in multiple helicopter crashes in Afghanistan earlier in the day.
In Miami Beach, local law enforcement created a perimeter on Collins Avenue, barricading several surrounding blocks. While many demonstrators said they opposed Obama’s policies, others such as Rey Joseph, 48, said he came out to show his support for the president.
“I love Obama and I know he will make mistakes,” said Joseph, 48, a Dominican native who has lived in Miami for the past 20 years.
Joseph said he came out to catch a glimpse of his president.
“His intentions are good,” Joseph added. “You can’t please everyone.”
The president spent the night in Miami before traveling this morning to Arcadia.
Photo by Carol Porter. President Barack Obama