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FL AG Commissioner Fried, Rep. Soto (D), State Rep. Rene Plasencia (R) and Business Leaders Urge Quick Action on Immigration Reform To Grow Economy and Keep Families Together

IMPAC Fund/ABIC Bipartisan Press Call Focuses on Creating Pathway to Citizenship for Dreamers, farmworkers, essential workers, and TPS Holders including Venezuelans and Haitians After Recent Political Strife and Natural Disasters

Link to video recording here:

Orlando, FL — A bipartisan group of business and political leaders, including local heads of chambers of commerce for Haitian-Americans, Venezuelan-Americans, and Puerto Ricans; Nikki Fried, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Republican State Rep. Rene Plasencia; and Democratic Rep. Darren Soto united behind the campaign to get immigration reform through Congress immediately.

Speaking during a virtual press conference, the civic leaders spoke of the urgent need for immigration reforms including pathways to citizenship for Dreamers, farmworkers, Temporary Protected Status permit holders, and essential workers that are proposed for inclusion in the federal budget reconciliation bill in the fall. The press conference, sponsored by IMPAC Fund, the Florida chapter of the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC), was Florida’s launch of ABIC’s seven-figure, national campaign to win immigration reform this year.

“I am committed to doing everything in my power to give our immigrant community the recognition, gratitude and support that they deserve,” said Fried, who noted that 40 percent of Florida’s immigrants work in the agriculture industry. “The moment to act is now. It is beyond time to do the right thing and pass comprehensive immigration reform in our country. This is why I call on Congress now to include a pathway to citizenship in the reconciliation package….This is the only home that Dreamers know and we cannot send TPS recipients back to their home countries where it is no safer a situation than when they were originally granted their status. It is time to embrace what makes us a great nation,” Fried added.

Republican State Rep. Rene Plasencia said, “I see my advocacy for immigration reform for (Dreamers) who have been growing up in this community much like I grew up, speaking two languages, knowing two separate cultures. And, had it not been for circumstance and politics, I could very well be in the same circumstances that they are in now and my mom and dad could be in the same circumstances. We’re all in this together. We all came here as immigrants no matter how far back you want to trace your lineage. Everyone came to this country from somewhere else. We need our federal congress to act now on immigration reform for the benefit of all of us here in this country.”

Speakers highlighted the need for immigration reform for the sake of the economy and to bring stability to the lives of immigrants who lived in the U.S. for many years, including TPS recipients from Venezuela and Haiti, where political turmoil and natural disasters have destabilized the nations.

The comments included:

Darren Soto, United States Representative (D-FL9): “It’s been over 35 years since we updated our immigration laws. Then Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic (House) Speaker ‘Tip’ O’Neill came together and they got it done. Like generations before us, we need to come together for bipartisan solutions….If not, if reconciliation is the only avenue left, then we must still proceed. Inaction is unacceptable. The time for having reform is upon us. We need real solutions now. We will pass a generational immigration reform bill to help all American families be reunited and stay united, to boost our economy, and to build back better.”

Dr. Idler Bonhomme, President, Greater Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Orlando: “The time to act is now. Immigration reform is urgent… We have waited for decades for solutions and Congress has failed to act to protect the security of our community and our families. In 2021, inaction is unacceptable…Immigrants included under this bill, including Dreamers, TPS recipients, and farmers, are already here making critical contributions to our economy and communities…. Immigrants create jobs and strengthen the economy.”

Dieu Yolnick Cadet, Haitian TPS recipient: “I’m a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant). We really need help. We thank Congress for helping us but we need them to continue to look forward because we can’t go back to Haiti. We lost our president and right now there’s a big earthquake and everybody has realized how bad it is in Haiti. There is no turning back. We can’t go back. This country relies on immigrants. We work, pay taxes. We go to school. We don’t come here to sit around and do nothing. We do so much for this country, and I know this country relies on us to better the economy. We are a part of it. Without us, they will fail.”

Lesly Simon, President, Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce: “Venezuelan citizens, in history, have been involved in key industries like healthcare and manufacturers, essential workers, students, technology all over the country, not only in Florida. We are willing to make more investments, and we are willing to be more helpful to this country that has opened its arms for all of our citizens.”

Jorge Figueroa, President,  Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida: “ABIC has been doing great work, working with elected officials in different key states…there is a lot of bipartisan support The real question (for Congress) is, ‘ Are you willing to part from party lines and vote to get this approved, not for the party, but for millions of people who are waiting for immigration support?”

Additional speakers included: Alfonso Vidal, President of Vidal Plastics; Nancy Navarro, Venezuelan-American Elected Official, Council-Member, Montgomery County, MD; Aryanny Eduardo, Interim Executive Director, IMPAC Fund; and Samuel Vilchez Santiago, Central Florida Coordinator, IMPAC Fund.


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.