A political odd couple recently held a press conference in Tallahassee on what has been a hot button issue for conservatives since Barack Obama was sworn as president — immigration reform.
As part of a national day of action, Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops joined with human rights activists and academics to call for Congress to end the stalemate on immigration reform and to develop a path to legal residency for the undocumented immigrants already here.
A Partnership for a New American Economy poll of Floridians found that 67 percent of respondents either strongly support or somewhat support an immigration reform plan that secures borders and increases the number of visas for immigrants.
Seventy-six percent of respondents reject House Republicans’ explanation that cites President Obama’s lack of enforcement of current laws as a valid reason not to act.
While the Catholic Bishops see immigration reform as a human-rights issue, the Florida Chamber sees it as good business. Legal immigrants are integral to a well-rounded, competitive workforce. The chamber recognizes that the state does not have enough skilled workers in technology, science, education, health and engineering to meet the demand of targeted industries for the state’s economic development.
The long-term labor forecasts indicate the problem will grow more severe. Unless Congress can figure out how to improve our immigration system, the state will fall behind and lose the opportunity to jump-start its economy and create even more jobs.
The Florida Chamber understands that the continuation and expansion of both temporary and permanent visa programs for both highly skilled and low skilled workers will fill gaps in our work force that our current citizens cannot.
It is good business to have a streamlined process for employment-based visas and immigration and border management systems that allow legitimate business and tourist travel across U.S. borders.