Immigration Reform is a Critical Issue for Florida

Aug. 29, 2013

According to a recently issued federal report, Florida’s economy will substantially benefit from immigration reform. Improvements in immigration policy will also reconfirm our nation’s commitment to providing opportunity for everyone.

This week U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack released a report indicating that reform of the current immigration system would increase the total income for Florida families by $6.5 billion within seven years. The report’s authors conclude that the creation of a reliable temporary worker program, combined with a process to earn citizenship, would also create more than 22,000 jobs statewide.

Nearly 25% of Florida’s labor force was born in a foreign country. These individuals work in agriculture, the construction trades, hospitality services and most other sectors of the economy. Nearly 30% of the state’s business owners are immigrants.

Florida agriculture heavily depends upon foreign-born workers for the production of fruits and vegetables – foods that are necessary for a health-sustaining diet. The report summarized by Vilsack projects that the elimination of immigrant labor in Florida could cause between $560.4 million and $1.01 billion in short-term agricultural production losses alone. Agriculture generates an overall annual economic impact of $104 billion in this state.

Florida Farm Bureau urges all citizens to endorse a reformed federal immigration policy that protects our borders, yet allows law-abiding foreign citizens to work here under a regulated system. Immigration policy involves the quality of life enjoyed by all Floridians.