Dear Members of Congress from Florida,
We, the undersigned business leaders from Florida, respectfully and urgently write to ask you to support a path to permanence to Dreamers, TPS holders, farmworkers and essential workers. Doing so will allow them to fully contribute to our economic prosperity as we rebuild and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
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. These workers are essential to the success of our businesses.
We must pass common sense immigration solutions in 2021. Inaction is not an option. These needed reforms are critical to growing our GDP, spurring job creation, and raising the wage floor for all American workers.
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.
Right now, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is closed to new applicants by court-order and without your action, DACA recipients will be forced to continue living in economic uncertainty which will be shared with their employers. 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. There are more than 60,000 TPS holders currently residing in Florida, and the number is expected to grow as over 300,000 Venezuelans and 95,000 Haitians are now eligible for TPS. They earn more than $880 million in household income and pay over $89.4 million in state and local taxes. The average TPS holder has been in the country for more than 20 years, and many have purchased homes, opened businesses and paid taxes. They need a pathway to citizenship to end the ever-looming threat of losing their status, so they can plan long-term and truly unleash their economic potential.
There is no doubt that immigrant farmworkers are vital members of our economy, and the need to stabilize their status is perhaps even greater today than ever before. While Florida’s farm labor shortage is nothing new, the situation has gotten worse as a result of the pandemic. 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. In fact, Florida ranks 3rd in the number of certified H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker positions, with 5,319 positions certified year to date in 2019. But, unfortunately, these workers have no way of knowing if they’ll have a legal means of employment one year to the next. And with immigrants comprising 50 percent of Florida’s farm labor market, coupled with the bureaucratic red tape the H2-A visa program imposes, Florida farmers can’t find workers to harvest their crops.
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.
A more stable immigration system would mean greater economic safety and security for all Floridians, powering key industries such as farming, hospitality, and construction. We see a pathway to citizenship as a solution, as a way to grow our economy while strengthening our communities.
Leadership sometimes demands taking tough positions for the right cause. There’s no greater cause than protecting and strengthening Florida’s economy. We call on you to stand up for Florida businesses and our economy by supporting common sense immigration solutions immediately.
Mike Fernandez, Chairman , MBF Healthcare Partners
Tony Argiz, South Florida Managing Partner, BDO USA, LLP
Stephanie Rakofsky, President & CEO, Rakofsky Management Inc.
Aida T. Levitan, Ph.D., President, The Levitan Group, Inc.
L. Felice Gorordo, CEO, eMerge Americas LLC
Paul DiMare, President, DiMare Homestead Inc.
Al Cardenas, Former Chair of the Republican Party of Florida and Co-Chair of the American Business Immigration Coalition
Maria Diaz, Founder/Partner, GBS Group
Paul Cejas, Chairman. CEO, PLC Investments Inc.
Oswaldo Muñoz, Director, El Venezolano News
Khalid Muneer, President, Jupiter Properties Inc.
Jan Gautam, President & CEO IHRMC , Founder of Bizzerty, IHRMC
Jorge Figueroa, President, Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce
Dr. Idler Bonhomme, Chairman, Greater Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Orlando
Evelyn Perez-Verdia, CEO, We Are Más
Claudia Briceno, Co-Founder, Venprendedoras
Mariesy Davila, Owner, Aquí y Allá Magazine
Brendan Ramirez, CEO, Pan American Behavioral Health Services of Florida
Jesus Seguias, President & CEO, Datincorp Inc.
Vicente Perez, Managing Partner, Venelegal
Carlos Barboza, Owner, Eco Green Auto Parts
Gelys Chacin, Vice-President, Coaches Financieros
Milagros Soto, President, Maintenance Team Solutions
Carlos Artigas Segovia, Owner, R-ServicesUSA
José Eloy Anzola, International Arbitrator, JEA DR
Juan Reyes, Owner, Semaycon LLC
Elisabeth Eljuri, President, Elisabeth Eljuri, P.A.
Rafael Villegas, Insurance, Rafael Villegas Insurance LLC
Laure Felton, Owner, Integrative Pilates
Susana Garcia, Owner, Cacao Art
Sylvia Lam, Event Planner, Decoeventolg LLC
Andrea Patricia Lamus Reyes, Insurance Agent, Rafael Villegas Insurance LLC
Kenneth Gonzalez, Sole Proprietor, Kenny G Investments
John Villegas Jr, President, Vsolar LLC
Cristina Vernet, Owner, La Casserola
Gilberto Martinez, Owner, Camellia & Associates llc
Alicia Civita, President, Life a la Latina Inc
Ana Alvarado, Owner, D&D 1523 LLC/ (DBA) Permatex of Florida
Maria A. Marquez, Founder, INRAV
Mariela Briceno, President, Viva Plus Corp.
Gonzalo Ulivi, Managing Partner, Silverspot Cinema
Alejandro Rodriguez, Owner / GM, MAR International Catering Corp
Raquel Martinez, Lawyer, IBT
Maria Salamanca, Partner, Unshackled Ventures
Liz Alarcon, Founder & Executive Director, Pulso
Jorge Rivera, Owner, Global Vision Equipment
Carolina Diaz, Director, Lokius LLC
María Carolina Van Pampus, Export Manager, Terra World Trade
Luz Marina Blacker, Owner, Amanda Luna
Crishtbel Mora, News Correspondent, Estrella TV
Yoleida Salazar, Owner, Cayena Productions
Maria Eugenia Vera, Agent, Vera.Insurance
Rossana Ramirez, General Manager, Neptunus Pool Services
Jeanette Salvatierra, CEO – Owner, JSB Life Coaching LLC
Vilma Otazo, Director of Creative Services, AMC Network International
Wadna Tirado, Mánager Member, BWC Trading & Consulting LLC
Jennifer Certad, Founder, Mind Creatd LLC
Maria Delfin, Manager, Level Social Media LLC
Yelka Mikolji, President, Indigo technologies
Victoria Azpurua, VP, Raymond James & Assoc
Emilia Arevalo, Owner, Cincuentasticas LLC
Maria Benezra, Owner, Entremesas.us
Jose Montilva, President, Escritorio Virtual LLC
Maria Caballero, Director, Mafe Natural LLC
Andrea Da Gama, Owner, Saborit by Andrea da Gama LLC
Diana Medina, Founder/ Director, Method to Madness, Inc
Maira Palacios, CEO, Maio Design
Glenda Travieso, General Manager, Gatt Enterprise LLC
Ramon Peraza, President, Cafe Canela
Zulmarie Padin, CEO, Latinas Power
Francisco Angulo, VP Global Development, Realogy
Reinaldo Vivas, CEO, World Music Schools Yamaha
Sebastiano Sortino, President, Netready USA Inc
Luis Corona, Vice President, VenAmerica