70+ Florida CEOs, Business Owners, and Entrepreneurs to Congress: Pass Immigration Reform NOW!
IMPAC Fund/ABIC Delivers Letter to Florida Congressional Delegation outlining how passing immigration reforms is key to saving Florida’s economy
MIAMI, FL — Today the bipartisan IMPAC Fund/American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) delivered a letter signed by more than 75 Florida CEOs, entrepreneurs, small business owners and community leaders to each member of Florida’s Congressional Delegation outlining the incredibly high stakes immigration reform has for Florida’s economy and business community and calling on Congress to pass immigration reforms through the upcoming budget reconciliation package.
“As a person who has witnessed, both personally and professionally, the very positive economic, social and cultural contributions that immigrants make to our country, I urgently ask our members of Congress (many of whom are immigrants themselves) to support a path to permanence to Dreamers, TPS holders, farmworkers and essential workers,” said Aida T. Levitan, Ph.D., President, The Levitan Group, Inc.
The letter (text here), signed by prominent business executives and owners, noted that immigrant workers, “are essential to the success of our businesses.”
The letter stated: “Immigrant workers have long-been part of the foundation that built the economy of this great state. In more recent times, they have worked through the pandemic as healthcare workers, first responders, restaurant and grocery store workers, childcare providers, and in so many other industries to keep Floridians safe and our economy afloat.”
Earlier this week, the Venezuelan American Alliance, and IMPAC Fund/ABIC released a poll showing that Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott stand to lose support among half of their state’s 90,000 eligible Venezuelan-American voters should they oppose a pathway to citizenship for Temporary Protected Status.
The message to members of Congress from Florida, was dispatched as the Senate Parliamentarian weighs whether or not immigration reforms that provide pathways to citizenship for DACA recipients, TPS holders, undocumented farmworkers and essential workers can be included in the upcoming budget reconciliation process.
ABIC and other immigration reform advocates note economic reports showing how the current proposals would exponentially increase state and national economies, grow tax revenues, create new jobs and raise the wage floor for all Americans once the economic power of these immigrants is unleashed.
“Over the last two decades, we have seen a devastating loss of field and crop workers in America,” said Paul DiMare, an ABIC/IMPAC Fund board member and President and CEO and President of Dimare Fresh Inc. “I have that first-hand here in Florida where from 2002 to 2014 we lost 18.5 % of our farm workforce and it’s only gotten worse. Immigrant farmworkers are the backbone of the agriculture industry, losing workers has cost our state millions of dollars in produce and productivity loss – it would be lunacy for Congress to miss this moment and fail to pass common sense immigration solutions.”
Dr. Idler Bonhomme, Chairman, Greater Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Orlando, noted the taxes paid and other economic contributions by immigrants.
“Many of our nation’s immigrants, including TPS holders, have been working and contributing to the U.S. economy for over 20 years. They are not only part of our essential workforce during this pandemic but pay taxes, buy properties, and are contributing members of our society, entrepreneurs and business owners. We have waited for decades for sensible immigration solutions. A path to citizenship is needed now.” Dr. Bonhomme said.
The letter enumerated the critical role undocumented immigrants play in Florida’s economy:
“If the immigrants under this proposal became citizens, the economy would increase by $121 billion annually and add about $31 billion per year to federal, state and local tax revenues. Here in our state, 93.7 percent of 68,000 DACA recipients are employed and hold a spending power of $1.1 billion. They pay over $290 million in local, state, and federal taxes each year… If DACA recipients eventually lose their ability to work legally, our state would lose $1.5 billion in annual GDP.
“Similarly, TPS holders are major contributors to state and national economies… They earn more than $880 million in household income and pay over $89.4 million in state and local taxes.”
It also detailed the devastating impact Florida’s labor shortage – notably in the agriculture and hospitality sectors – is having on its economy during the pandemic and the need for a legal pathway for undocumented workers so Floirda employers have the means to legally access one of the state’s most industrious and largest labor markets.
“Florida’s farmers frequently struggle to find enough workers, particularly in the Central Florida region where crop production generates billions of dollars for the economy. Florida’s agriculture industry is heavily reliant on immigration. Immigrants make up over 60% of farmworkers in the state and due to the lack of legal pathways, many farmers have to turn to undocumented workers. Nationwide, it is estimated that 50% of farmworkers are undocumented. The existing legal pathways are not nearly sufficient to supply the necessary labor.”
“Florida’s hospitality industry is also facing a dire labor shortage, with our restaurants and hotels being “desperate for workers.” This has important ramifications for our state, where the leisure and hospitality industry employs 11.9% of the state’s workforce. Significantly, more than 1 in 4 leisure and hospitality workers in Florida are immigrants.”
With Immigration reform needed immediately, the business-led letter urges Florida lawmakers to “stand up for Florida businesses and our economy,” and pass the immigration measures.
The American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) promotes common sense immigration reform that advances economic competitiveness, provides companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent they need, and allows the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, and citizens. ABIC is active in key states and communities across the country engaging activists, advocates, business leaders and elected officials on the urgency of passing immigration reform that boosts our economy, creates jobs, eases the labor shortage and supports families.
IMPAC Fund is the Florida chapter of the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) which promotes commonsense immigration reform that advances economic competitiveness, provides companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent they need, and allows the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, and citizens. For more information go to impacfund.org.