June 4, 2007

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s premier business advocate, Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), is urging Florida’s Congressional delegation to support a measure reforming the country’s flawed immigration policies. In a letter to U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, AIF applauds his work on compromise legislation (S.1348) which aims to responsibly bring legal status to some 12 million undocumented, productive workers.

“Americans must understand that the business community depends on the immigrant labor force to fuel our economy, especially in the areas of agriculture, tourism and growth related industries,” said Barney Bishop, President and CEO of AIF. “However, Florida and the rest of the country cannot continue to operate under a defective immigration system that perpetuates illegal activity and harms those individuals who entered the country legally.”

The federal compromise legislation addresses immigration reform policy and places the nation’s security at the utmost importance.  It emphasizes increased border security before any temporary worker program goes into effect, and helps to provide a workable balance between security and workforce needs through the below components:

  • An emphasis on increased border security which places our country’s national security foremost before any temporary worker program goes into effect;
  • The implementation of an efficient, practical and secure employer verification system by which business owners can ensure the identity of guest workers, thus protecting both business owners and the worker from any fraudulent activities;
  • The creation of temporary guest worker program and the establishment of clear, legal channels by which employers can get the seasonal and permanent immigrant labor they need now and in the future; and
  • An end to the failed policy of “chain migration” to be replaced by a system that allows for immigrants from both ends of the skill spectrum to achieve legal status.

“AIF is committed to working with the Florida delegation to find a way to keep our fragile economy moving in the right direction,” said Al Cardenas, AIF lobbyist on federal issues.  “We must recognize that while the business community embraces the information technology strides being made, many of our industries remain dependent on manual labor.  We need to work together toward a reasonable and secure solution to maintain a healthy economy.”

AIF stresses that as a national leader in job growth, Florida must rely on immigrants to provide manpower.  It is imperative for the country to adopt fair immigrant job policies to ensure the state’s labor force and economy do not suffer great harm.