The Florida Chamber believes that long overdue improvements to our nation’s immigration policies are essential to continued economic growth. Florida needs a well-rounded and competitive workforce to produce goods and services that will ensure a robust economic future for the state. To compete successfully in the future marketplace, Florida must plan for the labor demands resulting from an aging labor force, changing skills set needs and growth in global demand. Our state currently lacks an adequate population of skilled workers in technology, science, education, health and engineering and long-term forecasts indicate the problem will grow more severe.
A professional worker born in India with a U.S. Bachelor’s degree must wait 10 years for a green card to be available after a sponsoring employer documents that U.S. workers are not available in sufficient numbers. During the 10 year wait, this worker cannot be promoted until processing is completed.
Facing these bleak prospects many of these talented workers take their skills to other countries where they create new products and jobs for America’s competitors. To fill these and other jobs, and to restore growth to Florida’s economy, employers must look to legal immigrants to supplement their workforce. Immigration reform provides a way to jump start our economy and create jobs in the United States, recognizing that immigrants are key to the economic success of this country. Florida’s economy also relies heavily on tourism, much of which comes from overseas. Streamlining processes that welcome visitors to Florida will help create a globally competitive state.
Supporting a consistent federal policy of immigration that avoids undue burden to Florida’s employers and doesn’t harm Florida’s economy will help move our state forward. Florida’s economy depends on strong international relationships for its trade, manufacturing and agriculture industries. A consistent federal policy will help Florida’s employers avoid undue burdens and costs.
As a leader of Florida’s business community, we must continue to fight for a system that enables employers to fill the talent gap by taking advantage of all available skilled workers. We must continue to urge Congress to take up and pass comprehensive immigration reform measures that help to grow our economy. By supporting the continuation and expansion of both temporary and permanent visa programs for both highly skilled workers and low skilled workers, we can create a streamlined process for employment-based visas and immigration and border management systems that allow legitimate business and tourist travel across U.S. borders.
Join us in supporting reforms that will improve our competitiveness, attract and retain the best talent and the workers we need, secure our borders and keep faith with America’s legacy as an open and welcoming society.