Florida is a pivotal player when it comes to the debate on immigration reform. Advocates on both sides of this issue have tried to pressure lawmakers in the sunshine state by means of large rallies, demonstrations, and massive gatherings at town hall meetings, according to the Sun Sentinel.
A former director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that if a bill for immigration reform is passed, there is the potential for the cumulative federal deficit to decrease by more than $2.5 trillion over the course of a decade. While that is great news for the United States as a whole, how will such a bill affect Florida? Depending on what Congress decides with regard to this bill, Florida could be affected in a variety of ways. Lawmakers have a few different choices to pick from.
a) They can move to deport undocumented immigrants.
b) They can decide to stick with the status quo and not make changes.
c) They can support the reform and fix the immigration system once and for all.
According to an article by Benjamin Johnson, the Executive Director of the American Immigration Council in Washington, Choice A would result in Florida losing approximately $43.9 billion in economic activity, $19.5 billion in gross state product (GSP), and a decrease in the number of jobs by 262,436. Mass deportation of undocumented immigrants would create a precipitous and large reduction in labor supply. Such a steep reduction in labor, a key factor in production, would lead to the state’s economy contracting. The state’s fiscal revenue would decline. If all of the undocumented immigrants are deported from the state, Florida’s economy will suffer. In Florida alone, more than 60% of all undocumented immigrants have been working and making a living here for over a decade.
If Congress went for Choice B and stuck with the status quo, what would change? Nothing. Failure to reform the broken immigration system may not cause the economy to lose much, but continuing with the current immigration policies provides little room for economic improvement. Undocumented immigrants contribute to Florida’s economy, and would continue to do so without reform. A study by Florida International University found that undocumented workers contribute an estimated $20 billion in state taxes. A similar study conducted by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy found that undocumented immigrants in Florida paid $806.8 million in local and state taxes in 2010. Due to their status, however, these undocumented immigrants are not able to contribute fully without becoming citizens.
If Congress goes for Choice C and decides to change the immigration system, Florida would benefit directly. In this situation where everyone would be documented and working, a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy states that a documented immigrant workforce in Florida would pay additional consumer and personal taxes. These taxes would exceed $41 million per year.
Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican who represents parts of both Broward and Miami-Dade counties, told William E. Gibson from the Washington Bureau in this article, “It’s going to get ugly at times, but I am cautiously optimistic we are going to get something done.” He tried to persuade legislators to pass an immigration reform bill, just as Senator Marco Rubio did. They are pushing for this bill to be passed, which would give the estimated 825,000 undocumented immigrants in Florida a chance to earn their citizenship.
In the beginning of August, Republicans had a 33-member majority in the chamber. If a bill for reform hopes to pass, it needs the support of at least 17 Republicans. Six Republicans from Florida, other than Mario Diaz-Balart, seem to be “persuadable.” Other Republicans, however, would only support such a bill if there were many strings and conditions attached to it. Florida plays an important role in the immigration reform debate, yet no reform bill has been passed. As an Orlando Immigration Attorney, I hope that the rest of Congress will review these benefits and pass the bill without further delay.
If you have questions about immigration reform, or any other immigration law issues, call Henry Lim at Lim & Associates, P.A. at (407) 897-8870.
About the Author:
Henry Lim, an Orlando Immigration Attorney, can help you with all of your USA immigration and citizenship law questions regarding a work visa, family based immigration, US student visa, visa lottery, visitor visa, E-2 Visa & E-1 Visa, L-1 Visa, H1B Visa, F-1 Student Visa, and more. Contact Henry Lim and Associates, the professional immigration law firm in Orlando, Florida at (407) 897-8870 to schedule an appointment. Proudly serving Orlando, Kissimmee, Volusia County, Brevard County, and all of Central Florida.
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