Supporting Smarter Immigration Policy

 

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Why It Matters to Florida

The Florida Chamber supports a consistent federal policy for immigration that protects and compliments Florida’s workforce and growing economy. Immigration reform allows Florida’s international ties in trade to remain strong and provides a valuable population of skilled workers.

With the recent announcement to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Florida Chamber of Commerce encourages Congress and the administration to work together to quickly find a legislative solution before the program expires. Without a legislative solution 800,000 DACA recipients will lose
their ability to legally work, and study, leaving many Florida employers, workers, and
students without certainty.

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.

Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda

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.

The Fight for Free Enterprise Continues

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.

Act Now

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.

CFIUS Reform Legislation Introduced in the House and Senate

Congress proposes tougher reviews of foreign investments under Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) reform through the expansion of the CFIUS which reviews foreign mergers and acquisition for possible threats to national security.  Reviews under the proposed bill now include joint ventures and minority position investments, real estate investments near sensitive military or national security installations to name a few.

The bill aims to increase the national security factors CFIUS considers as well as add restrictions which help the U.S. maintain a technological advantage over countries deemed as bad actors or threats.

U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), along with Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and others introduced CFIUS reform legislation titled the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) in the Senate

Congressman Robert Pittinger (R-SC), along with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (CA-22) along with Florida Congressman Ted Yoho (FL-03) and others, introduced companion legislation in the House.

The Florida Chamber will be monitoring developments.  Florida has benefited from foreign direct investment and over 266,000 Floridians are employed by majority-owned U.S. affiliates of foreign companies.  For more information and to download the Florida Chamber’s Foreign Direct Investment report click here.

To share your views please contact – Alice Ancona at aancona@flchamber.com or at 850-521-1210

Bi-partisan Miscellaneous Tariff Bill is Introduced

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), House Ways and Means Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2017 (MTB) on November 9.

The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) temporarily reduces or suspends the import tariffs paid on particular products imported into the United States which are not made in America.

The recently introduced MTB would enhance the competiveness of U.S. manufacturers by reducing the tariffs on products and components that are not made in the U.S.  Since the last MTB expired at the end of 2012, manufacturers have paid billions of dollars of tariffs.

The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016, which became law on May 20, 2016, created an entirely new process for determining which products will be included in an MTB.

Previously, Congress had played the predominant role in the MTB process. Under the new process, the task of collecting petitions requesting reduced or suspended tariffs on particular products, public comment and making a final determination on whether to include a requested product in an MTB falls to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). The USITC also obtains input from other Federal agencies, including the Department of Commerce.

More information and press release here.

Florida Chamber Supports Smarter Immigration Policy

 

Download Letter    Add Your Name     Immigration Policy

 

There’s a lot going on in Washington, D.C., and one specific area within immigration is the fate of 800,000 children in a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). I want to share with you a letter of support the Florida Chamber of Commerce has sent to Florida’s Congressional Delegation.

 

America is the land of opportunity, freedom and earned success.  Diversity is a uniquely American value and it is a privilege to be an American citizen.  We are a nation of laws as well as a nation of immigrants.

With the recent announcement ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Florida Chamber of Commerce respectfully encourages Congress and the administration to work together to quickly find a legislative solution before the program expires.  Without a legislative solution, 800,000 DACA recipients will lose their ability to work and legally study, and it will leave many Florida employers, workers and students without certainty.

Florida is a proud leader in private-sector job creation as well as forward looking policy decisions. Florida is inextricably connected to the global economy and we are actively growing and securing our future. Florida’s nearly $1 trillion GDP will see private-sector job growth of two million new jobs by 2030. Immigrants have made positive contributions to Florida’s economic growth, fueling Florida’s entrepreneurial spirit, creating jobs, diversifying our economy and have provided global competitive advantages that have helped make Florida a recognized international business center.

Decades of unsuccessful immigration policy has created an environment for positive change. The Florida Chamber believes Congress and the administration should work in a bipartisan effort to provide clear direction and leadership for the hard working, law abiding, established individuals in our communities under the DACA program. However, we do not support illegal immigration or a pathway to citizenship for convicted felons.

The Florida Chamber supports an earned pathway to citizenship for immigrants that pass criminal background checks as well as supports policies that reduce illegal immigration and improve on border security.

 

 

 

The Facts Are Clear:

  • There are approximately 800,000 DACA individuals.
  • In Florida, voters overwhelmingly support – by 82 percent – allowing DACA recipients to remain in the United States.
  • Regarding citizenship, 85 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Independents (NPAs,) and 59 percent of Republicans support a pathway to citizenship.

 

The Florida Chamber stands ready to work with you and the administration toward a constructive solution that is in the best interest of Florida and the nation’s economy.

Florida Chamber Supports Trans-Pacific Partnership American Trade Policy

> DOWNLOAD Our Letter to Congresswoman Kathy Castor

> DOWNLOAD Our Letter to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

> DOWNLOAD Our Letter to Congressman Ted Yoho

 

Florida’s current business agenda puts jobs, growth and economic opportunity in the driver’s seat. Florida has been able to grow our economy exponentially due to a smart and business-friendly environment. The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) American trade policy as it will have a significant impact on the strength of our economy and the lives of Floridians.

The TPP agreement will provide Florida with the opportunity to increase goods and services trade with emerging markets across the globe. It will accomplish this by removing several challenges that our businesses face when they attempt to bring their goods to international markets. This monumental trade deal will create a level playing field between U.S. companies of all sizes with some of our strongest trading partners.

Florida already has good trade ties with several of the TPP countries. Florida exported $1.6 billion in goods and $3.3 billion in services in 2014 to these countries. The TPP will remove nearly 18,000 tariffs American businesses face, which will undoubtedly increase exports tot he TPP partner countries.

The U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Canadian and Japanese companies alone employed approximately 57,200 employees  in Florida in 2013. More than 1,300 Florida businesses are subsidiaries of companies based in TPP countries, serving as an important source of business investment and job creation in the state. Statewide there are nearly 942,000 jobs supported by the TPP trade in Florida.

Florida will benefit from the opportunities created by the TPP and we encourage Congress and the President to enact legislation that will implement it.

Breaking the Cycle of Generational Poverty

This weekend, Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, discussed the importance of economic opportunity for all Floridians during a presentation at Leadership Florida.

While Florida is creating 1 out of every 10 new jobs in the U.S., and is lowering taxes and creating greater economic opportunities, 1 in every 6 Floridians live in poverty and more than 1 million households live below the federal poverty line in our state.

Earlier this year, during testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Human Resources, Wilson urged Congress to seek ways to end generational poverty by lifting up Americans through economic opportunity instead of entitlements.

“In my view, the battle of this generation is between economic equality and economic opportunity – between those who believe that everyone is entitled to equal outcomes and those who believe everyone should have an equal opportunity at earned success,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

WATCH: Florida Chamber President Urges Congress to Begin Breaking The Cycle of Generational Poverty Through Economic Opportunity

 

Read the Congressional Testimony

 

“The battle of this generation is between economic equality and economic opportunity – between those who believe that everyone is entitled to prosperity and those who believe everyone is entitled to the opportunity to succeed,” said MARK WILSON, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 1, 2016) – While voters in 11 states are casting ballots for their preferred presidential candidate today, Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce took to Capitol Hill to encourage the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Human Resources to seek ways to end generational poverty by lifting up Americans through economic opportunity instead of entitlements.

Watch the Full Testimony by Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce

 

Congressman Vern Buchanan asks, “What Can Florida do?”

Take Action Now: Ex-Im Bank Vote on Monday

The House is expected to vote on reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank next Monday, October.26, and we need your help to secure enough votes to pass the bill. Please click the “Take Action Now” button below and urge your member of Congress to VOTE and pass the bipartisan Fincher legislation on the Export-Import Bank.

Please also share this communication with your members, stakeholders, and employees.

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You may already know the Florida Chamber supports the long-term reauthorization of the Ex-Im (Export-Import) Bank, which has helped more than 600 Florida companies export goods around the globe over the past five years.

U.S. House members gathered enough signatures today to force a floor vote to revive the Export-Import Bank. The House vote to officially reauthorize the bank’s charter will likely take place on October 26, 2015.

It’s been more than 100 days since Congress allowed the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank to expire.

Did You Know?

Since 2007 in Florida, Ex-Im has supported:

  • $8.17 billion in export sales
  • 872 companies
  • 52,230  jobs

Please click the “Take Action Now” button below and urge your member of Congress to VOTE and pass the bipartisan Fincher legislation on the Export-Import Bank.
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Here’s a Simple Breakdown of the Iran Deal

Iran and six world powers lead by the U.S., recently concluded a historic deal aimed at ensuring Iran does not develop nuclear weapons in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.

Here’s what this deal entails:

  • Iran will be able to keep its nuclear program for purely peaceful purposes — including electricity and medical treatments.
  • Iran agrees to restrict all uranium enrichment and related research and development for the first eight years of the deal.
  • Iran reaffirms that it will leak, develop or acquire any nuclear weapon.
  • Iran will commit to reducing its existing stockpile of low-enriched uranium by around 98 percent to under 300 kg (about 660 lbs) for 15 years.

In addition, under the deal, all U.N. Security Council sanctions will be lifted, as will other sanctions placed on the country. Iran will gain access to approximately $100 billion in frozen assets.

What’s next for the deal:

  • Congress has 60 days to review the agreement. It is expected to encounter strong opposition from Republicans.
  • It also needs to be ratified by Iran’s supreme leader, as well as by the U.N. Security Council.

Here are more resources to learn more about this deal:

 

ACTION ALERT: U.S. Senate Set to Discuss Free Trade Bill This Week

Your Voice is Needed Now!

The United States Senate has indicated they will hear arguments this week on recently-filed legislation that would renew the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The Florida Chamber supports renewing the TPA, which is essential to creating high-wage jobs and opening new markets for Florida’s exporters.

Click here to read the bill.  Join us in urging members of Congress to support the TPA.

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In a recent statement of support, Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber said:

“Increasingly, international trade is one of Florida’s top strategies for economic diversification and long-term growth.  Leveraging and growing trade opportunities that build bridges to more markets for ‘Made in Florida’ products and services around the world is essential. Free Trade Agreements help provide greater access to new markets for Florida exporters by reducing trade barriers. The renewal of the Trade Promotion Authority is essential to our continued success as a global hub for trade.”

We Need Your Support!

Contact your member of Congress and voice your support for the renewal of the TPA!

ACTION ALERT: Support Free Trade Agreements Today

Last week, legislation that would renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) was introduced. Passage of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, is critical to advancing the U.S. and Florida’s Trade agenda in order to achieve state of the art trade deals that truly will serve as catalysts to growing trade for Florida’s exporters. The Florida Chamber supports renewing TPA, which is essential to creating high-wage jobs and opening new markets for Florida’s exporters.
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Join us in urging members of Congress to support the TPA.

In a recent statement of support, Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber said:

“Increasingly, international trade is one of Florida’s top strategies for economic diversification and long-term growth.  Leveraging and growing trade opportunities that build bridges to more markets for ‘Made in Florida’ products and services around the world is essential. Free Trade Agreements help provide greater access to new markets for Florida exporters by reducing trade barriers. The renewal of Trade Promotion Authority is essential to our continued success as a global hub for trade.”

We Need Your Support!

Contact your member of Congress and voice your support for the renewal of TPA!

Florida Chamber and U.S. Chamber Partner for Immigration Reform

Inaction by Congress is Not A Path Forward

The problems with our immigration system have grown and multiplied, and have become a threat to the productivity of key industries in Florida.

Today, the Florida Chamber of Commerce joined with our partners at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and the American and Florida Farm Bureau Federations in urging Congress and the administration to work together to enact immigration reform during a Day of Action – an effort that included events in Washington, DC and in more than 60 congressional districts across 25 states.

The Florida Chamber supports a comprehensive, federal approach to immigration reform – one that serves our nation’s best interest and is crucial for Florida as we position ourselves to win the global race for talent and jobs. Proper immigration reform efforts will serve to protect and complement our workforce and generate greater productivity and economic activity that will lead to new innovations, businesses, and jobs in communities across Florida and the U.S.

Currently, Florida 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. Immigration reform provides a way to further aid Florida’s recovering economy, create valuable and needed jobs and make our state more competitive.

A consistent federal policy of enforcement that does not place unreasonable burdens on employers will help ensure continued competitive growth. 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.

 

Get Involved:

Join us in supporting reforms that will improve our competitiveness by contacting your members of congress and urging them to support immigration reform.

Tourism Group Pushes to Ease Travel-Visa Restrictions

By Jim Stratton

If you listen to Oren Lotringer, Central Florida could become a hotbed for Israeli tourism.

It has theme parks, shopping, outdoor adventures and plenty of hotels for Israeli families looking for a taste of the U.S. — all the ingredients his countrymen are looking for, he said, with one exception.

“It’s very difficult to get a visa,” said Lotringer, president of the Central Florida-based Live Israel Tours. About 331,000 Israelis visited the U.S. last year, but Lotringer said many more would come “if it wasn’t so hard.”

It’s a message being pushed by tourism-industry interests as small as Live Israel Tours and as big as Walt Disney Co.

Under the name Discover America Partnership, they are lobbying Congress to expand the Visa Waiver Program, which lets visitors from 38 countries – such as France, Japan and Germany — visit the U.S. for 90 days on a passport only, with no visa required. The group has identified a number of countries it would like to add to the list, including Brazil, Poland, Croatia, Israel and Uruguay.

Expanding the program would pump nearly $10 billion into the economy and create nearly 60,000 new jobs, according to Discover America estimates. Lotringer, who arranges visits to the U.S. for about 2,000 Israelis each year, can’t vouch for those numbers. But he’s confident Israel’s inclusion in the program would help Orlando.

“Many Israelis consider the U.S. to be the ‘big brother,’” he said. “They love to travel here and to spend money when they travel here.”

To get a visa, Israelis must visit the U.S. embassy, fill out forms and submit to an interview. They pay a processing fee – between $160 and $190 – that is non-refundable, even if the visa is denied.

The process is similar in other countries, though, logistically harder in some. In Brazil, families may have to travel hundreds of miles for visa interviews. The country, roughly the size of the continental U.S., has just four consular offices that conduct the interviews.

Applicants can be rejected for several reasons. Interviewers may decide they’re a security risk or worry that they may try to stay longer than permitted.

Those issues also affect which countries are granted visa waiver status, according to the Congressional Research Service. They must meet certain security protocols and have a stable government and a functioning economy. Argentina was booted out of the program in 2002 because U.S. officials feared an economic collapse there might drive large numbers of Argentines to the U.S. in search of work.

Sometimes a country is kept out of the waiver program for political reasons.

Israel, for example, is a strong U.S. ally, but the country makes it difficult for Americans of Palestinian or Arab descent to visit and travel. Consequently, the U.S. has been reluctant to make it easy for Israelis to travel here.

“In that case, it’s purely political,” said Duncan Dickson, a professor at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

In Central Florida, the focus is on South American countries not currently in the program — Brazil and Argentina, in particular. Even without the advantage of the waiver program, Brazil has become Orlando’s biggest source of overseas tourists, and industry leaders see similar potential in Argentina.

The stakes are so high that some of the area’s biggest tourism players – including Disney, Universal, Visit Orlando and Visit Florida – sit on the executive committee of the Discover America Partnership. Those seats cost $10,000.

“For us, there’s nothing but upside,” said Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel. “We know when those barriers come down, you can see benefits quickly.”

UCF Professor Asli D.A. Tasci studied the effects of tougher visa restrictions on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

“The numbers were clear,” she said. “Declining numbers coincided with tightening regulations,” and China “did not get the return on their massive investment on this mega-event.”

Although countries can be added to the program by the Department of Homeland Security, the industry is urging Congress to pass legislation that eases eligibility requirements. The legislation doesn’t explicitly add countries to the program, but more would become eligible under its provisions.

The measure is supported by more than 150 members of Congress, but it’s part of a larger immigration reform package that appears dead for now.

“Candidly,” said Aguel, “it’s stalled.”

That frustrates tour operators such as Honorata Pierwola, president of the New Jersey-based Society of Polish American Travel Agents. Pierwola said Poland, like Israel, is filled with people who would like to see the U.S. and Florida if getting here was easier.

“People don’t understand why they need it [a travel visa],” she said. Eliminating that requirement, she said, “would be very good economically for Florida.”