Central Florida Leaders Call For Immigration Reform

Central Florida Leaders Call For Immigration Reform

This article was originally published by Ben Montgomery in AXIOS Tampa Bay

Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio are facing pressure from a group of Central Florida leaders to pass bipartisan legislation that would give more security to some of the roughly 490,000 immigrants living in the region.

What's happening

Business, political and religious leaders are warning of a post-pandemic worker shortage in industries such as agriculture and hospitality, and they're urging across-the-aisle cooperation.

They're specifically calling for Congress to pass pending legislation such as the Durbin-Graham Dream Act of 2021, the Bennett-Crapo Farm Workforce Modernization Act, or the SECURE Act.

The backdrop

The call comes as a U.S. District Court judge in Texas weighs whether to end DACA, which the leaders say would threaten economic recovery.

Between the lines

One in three hospitality workers in Florida are immigrants, and there are some 60,000 Temporary Protected Status recipients living in the state, many of them Venezuelans.

Roughly 50% of workers in the Central Florida agriculture industry are immigrants.

What they're saying

"We worry about our ability to continue to grow without an adequate workforce," said Arianna Cabrera de Ona, senior vice president of HR and general counsel of Costa Farms, during a press conference.

"Every president has accepted the idea of comprehensive immigration reform, and yet we’ve got nothing to show for it," said Al Cardenas, former chairman of the Florida Republican Party.

"When you have over 1,000 CEOs clamoring for reform, it's not about politics," he added.

However, Marco Rubio blamed the Biden administration for a crisis on the Southern border.

"I have made it clear that a blanket amnesty for those who are in the country unlawfully is a non-starter," Rubio said in a statement. "It is impossible to do anything substantive on immigration until President Biden enforces existing immigration law."


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