Business, political, and religious leaders are urging Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to take up immigration reform legislation which would add security to around 490,000 immigrants in Florida.
Democratic Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said at a panel hosted by the American Business Immigration Coalition that he is urging Florida’s senators to take up bipartisan immigration legislation. The legislation offers a pathway to citizenship for children brought here by illegal aliens, classified under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. Dyer noted almost 20 percent of Orlando population was born in another country and their status as workers drives Central Florida’s economy.
A representative from Scott’s team said Scott “has been clear that he supports legal immigration and a permanent solution for DACA and TPS [Temporary Protected Status],” however, ““any immigration proposal needs to secure the border.”
The increased discussions regarding immigration reform comes on the heels of a U.S. District Court Judge in Texas weighing whether or not to end DACA for illegal aliens, which supporters of the program say would slow economic recovery coming out of the COVID pandemic.
“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.
In Florida, one third of hospitality workers are immigrants, and there are over 60,000 TPS immigrants in the state.
“In Orlando and surrounding areas, one in three hospitality industry workers are an immigrant,” said Idler Bonhomme, chairman of the Greater Haitian American Chamber of Commerce in Orlando. “I’m grateful to the Biden administration for extending the TPS for Haitian nationals, but more can be done. We want all immigrants to have the same opportunity — a path to permanent residency.”
Rubio, who has supported temporary extensions for the TPS program, is concerned about indefinite extensions.
Rubio said “a blanket amnesty for those who are in the country unlawfully is a non-starter” and it’s “impossible to do anything substantive on immigration until President Biden enforces existing immigration law.”
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