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Nancy Smith

The Florida Compact on Immigration: The Key to Keep Driving the State Economy Forward

March 21, 2019 - 9:00am
Cartoonist: Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News
Cartoonist: Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News
Only California has a greater stake in the immigration conversation than Florida. Why? Because Florida's immigrants -- many in number, talent and drive -- contribute a ton to the state and national economies. 
Think that in 2017, immigrants spent $7.8 billion in state and local taxes, and wielded $91.9 billion a year in spending power. 
I've always believed Floridians have more reason than other states to be bullish on immigration's positives. We could, and should, lead the world in that regard -- that's how well they've paid off for the Sunshine State.
Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised to see the newly released Florida Compact on Immigration, a document signed by more than 70 business, civic and education leaders in the state. It comes as new data from New American Economy (NAE)’s Map the Impact, and shows just how much immigrant contributions add to Florida’s economy.
The compact is a set of key principles outlining the need for smart immigration policies at the state and federal levels to drive Florida's economy forward.
I Beg to Differ
It never loses sight of the fact that America is a nation of laws. But that doesn't mean it can't -- and does -- call for a federal immigration system that meets the needs of Florida’s employers and labor market; offers a way for undocumented Floridians who are contributing members of their communities and economies to stay legally and work; and provides for a secure, efficient southern border. It is supported by New American Economy, the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) and the Immigration Partnership and Coalition Fund (IMPAC).
Have a look at the whole of the Florida Compact on Immigration and its list of signatores by clicking here.
In the meantime, here are the six principles in the compact that signatores are urging state leaders and Florida's congressional delegation to adopt:
1. FEDERAL RESPONSIBILITY: Immigration policy is a federal issue between the U.S. government and other countries. Florida’s delegation in Congress should work to enact federal immigration policy that improves our immigration system, keeps our communities safe, and protects our borders.
​2. STRENGTHENING OUR ECONOMY & WORKFORCE: As the gateway to the Americas and Caribbean for commerce, culture and investment, Florida needs a robust workforce and policies that prioritize attracting and retaining international talent. Our immigration system must be flexible enough to address the needs of businesses while protecting the interests of workers. This includes a visa system that is both responsive and effective at meeting the demands of our economy. And it should acknowledge the critical role immigrants play in Florida’s economy as workers, taxpayers, and consumers. (As of 2017, immigrants contributed $7.8 billion in state and local taxes and held nearly $91.9 billion in spending power.)
3. A COMMON-SENSE APPROACH: Immigrants are part of our communities across Florida. A common-sense approach to this reality would reflect our values and recognizes the critical role immigration has played in our nation’s history and economy. Our immigration policies should provide a sensible path forward for immigrants who are here without legal status, are of good character, pay taxes, and are committed to becoming fully participating members of our society and culture — in particular, Florida Dreamers and TPS holders.
​4. EFFECTIVE ENFORCEMENT: A sensible and honorable law enforcement strategy would focus on public safety, target serious crime, and safeguard witnesses and victims. We need a reasonable and predictable regulatory environment that considers the interests of, and unintended consequences to businesses, the workforce, and consumers. A broader reform effort ultimately needs to include ways that accurately, reliably, and affordably determine who is permitted to work— and ensure an adequate workforce for a growing economy.
5. FAMILY: Strong families are critical to developing successful individuals and cohesive communities. Our immigration policies should prioritize keeping close families together so as to ensure the most supportive home environments for all children.
​6. COMPETITIVE COMMUNITIES: Communities that grow and attract talent are the ones who are welcoming to all. Local policies should nurture an environment that helps all residents to have the tools and opportunities they need to succeed.   
In a teleconference call with the press last week, some of the compact's signatores were on hand to explain what it should mean to Florida to have such a blueprint. Here's what they said: 
-- “In this era of partisanship, the Florida Compact shows that leaders across the political spectrum agree that America needs a better immigration system,” said John Feinblatt, president of New American Economy. “From health care to agriculture, broad immigration reform is critical to Florida’s economic growth.”
-- “Immigrants embody some of the best examples of the American Dream, and I’m proud to be part of a dynamic group of Florida leaders who will help drive the conversation forward and display the invaluable contributions of immigrants throughout our economy,” said Mike Fernandez, chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners. “Right now, it’s extremely vital that we promote these key principles and guide a productive discussion on immigration reform to attain the economic success Florida desires.”
-- State Sen. Anitere Flores added, “Immigration reform is a hurdle that needs to be solved at the federal level, but it affects us deeply right here in Florida. It’s up to us to educate and inform every Floridian about what reform would mean for the growth of their local communities. The Compact’s principles lay out the framework for what future solutions should look like, and I look forward to building support around the pillars that will make up a prosperous, economic future for Florida’s communities.”
-- “The history of our nation has witnessed the nearly immeasurable benefits of hardworking immigrants, and Florida is proud to be a key location of building an economy around that success. However, our work to attract the best and brightest to our schools and to our workforce is just beginning,” said Juan Carlos Bermudez, mayor of Doral. “Competition and employer demand has never been higher, and we must rise to the occasion and meet the opportunities right in front of us. Our future economy depends on the very successes laid out by the principles of this Florida Compact.”
-- “Immigrants are often some of the first individuals to start a business and invest in their local communities. By tapping into the resources described in the Florida Compact, we can help unleash our true potential,” said Julio Fuentes, president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “I believe our state can lead the way on a meaningful conversation that can accomplish the goals of both employees and the immigrants seeking to make a difference in the economy.”
Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith



Typical amnesty garbage.

I see a lot of anti immigrant rhetoric. Have any of you naysayers ever picked anything? I have. It's damned hard work. It's necessary for you to eat. And current and past immigration policies have never allowed the numbers needed to actually do the work. I get it.... I've actually lost work to undocumented immigrants. As a Master Carpenter my hourly wage was well above t undocumented labor wages. There has to be a balance. And we'll never get there until folks stop the rhetoric, stop the political BS a agree to solve the problem. A complete and total overhaul of immigration policies. From walls and fences to labor and population increasing immigration. Yeah. We need those families, those children, to help our economy grow. We need solutions not scare tactics. We need solutions not rhetoric.

Why would Florida want to follow the example of the nearly bankrupt California? E-verify! Undocumented workers are ILLEGALLY here in this country. Do not insult the LEGAL immigrants who followed our laws when they entered this country. We do not need an amnesty program just for Florida. Florida does NOT need to become a Sanctuary state. That does not benefit the tax paying citizens of Florida!

"Illegal" is "illegal" and the businesses in this state that exist almost wholly on using illegal labor are bigger problems to the rule of law and the economy than are the illegals themselves. For starters ... E-Verify should become MANDATORY and employers who fail to use it properly or who continue to hire illegals should be heavily fined and penalized. Big businesses, agricultural or otherwise, who continue to hire illegals are the reason that the illegals keep coming here! Eliminate the illegals ability to get jobs here ... and you sure as hell won't have to build a wall!

SANCTUARY CITIES: What a place to raise a family. Illegal aliens, gang members, felons fleeing ICE are your neighbors. Emergency services? Taxpayer pay for every police, fire, paramedic service call for illegal aliens in their city. Taxpayers also pay for all hospital, emergency room treatments, ambulances, medications. Hospital wait times for citizens are negatively impacted. THE STAMPEDE: Its Trumps fault!!! LOL. Democrats offer rewards, incentives so.....More caravans on the way. The current migration at our border is costing U.S taxpayers a Kings ransom. Fleeing persecution? or fleeing for freebies? they sure don't stay in Mexico when they reach "safety" or ask or offered political asylum in Mexico. Why? because Mexico will give them NOTHING. So they make the long journey to our border, our generous Democrats, and our tax dollars. Notice how many have made the long, difficult, dangerous journey to our country 8-9 months pregnant? Give birth on American soil and the U.S. taxpayers will not only pay for the birth of you're child but will also give you state government assistance. THE WALL: The Border Patrol, DHS, ICE our Military & the Army Corps of Engineers have all endorsed the need for a wall numerous times almost nightly. However, immigration experts Nancy Pelosi & Chuck Schumer disagree, saying the wall won't work, oh and they also have zero ideas. I'll go with the opinions of the border patrol not open borders crowd. Barrack Obama’s own border patrol chief, Mark Morgan, has repeatedly stated that walls work. They free up resources to focus on the points of entrances so they can detect more contraband and illegals. Check out the wall on youtube. TPS / DACA To Democrats/Progressives/Socialists (whats the difference?) programs like Temporary Protective Status (TPS) or Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals (DACA) are permanent programs....there is nothing "temporary or deferred" about these programs to Democrats. These programs are designed to admit refugees (usually from the third world) then Democrats fight to keep them here permanently using the charge of racism, religion, guilt against anyone opposed. Simple formula works great. THE PRICE: Democrats view U.S. citizens as acceptable collateral damage to their future long range goals of flooding the country with refugees & illegal aliens and having taxpayers paying the cost. Democrat politicians and their voters have put families at risk of being victimized by illegal aliens as in the cases Kate Steinly (nothing done) then, Mollie Tibbetts, (nothing done) Police Cpl. Ronil Singh, (nothing done) now Bambi Larson; butchered in her home, nothing will be done...who's next? These victims would be alive today if our border was secured. Most of these killers have been deported numerous times. Bambi 's killers claimed "amnesty" to get in. Google search "illegal alien crime" or "victims." try not to puke the list is unbelievable. Preventable victimization's.

The things you are saying is out of complete ignorance. I know alottttt of immigrants personally...and they do NOT come here expecting anything free...assistance or any other kind of help...and an illegal cannot get any kind of public assistance and that includes Medicaid or anything else...when they give birth here, the pay cash because they have no coverage and I know this from personal experince. A very dear friend of mine had 2 miscarriages and is still paying payments to pay off her medical bill...all these people want to do is come work to feed their families...and they come here 8 months pregnant only for the benefit of their child having a better life than they did in their country...if they make it here before they give birth then that child is an American citizen and has many opportunities to become somebody....and the tax dollars that you are saying support them is also bullshit...because if they are illegal, they work and taxes get taken out of their check but they never file to get them that contributes to this country being so that Medicaid or any kind of assistance that we Americans get, are coming from their hard earned tax dollars too... Do you see them bitching, I don't think so....they work and they go he to their families and mind their own business....if Trump wants to close a border he needs to stop the damn Iraqis and those countries from being able to come over here illegally or that they won't be able to bomb our next time u decide to run off at the mouth about something u know nothing bout getting to know them personally...and not just believing the statistics you see in the news

Just a few examples of the more outrageous costs associated with illegal immigration, we will pass this burden on to our children & grand children as has been passed on to us. *Cost of educating illegal aliens is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers on average $122,000 for EACH illegal alien student. This does not include the millions spent on bilingual ED, instructors, special need children & day care. School class size are negatively impacted by illegal aliens and our students suffer as a result. *Taxpayers in some states are funding "in state college tuition" discounts for illegal aliens. (AZ voted to terminate this taxpayer expense.) Cost to taxpayers over a billion dollars annually. *About one in five inmates in federal prison are foreign-born, and more than 90 percent of those are in the United States illegally. This does not include local jails and state prisons. At roughly $24,000 per year expense per inmate. *$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate, process Illegal aliens in the criminal justice system. *Every child birth by illegal aliens in the U.S is paid for with tax dollars.In the US, the average cost to have a baby without complications during delivery, is $10,808, which can increase to $30,000 when factoring in care provided before and after pregnancy (July 9, 2018 google.) * Section 8 housing. Illegal aliens take full advantage of this program. Citizens & their families in poverty in many cases wait years behind non citizens for emergency housing. *Congress is debating DACA and is costing taxpayers millions of dollars. Thank the parents and Barrack Obama. *$2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on is spent on food assistance programs such as SNAP, WIC, & taxpayer funded school lunches. Visit youtube search "cost of illegal immigration."

Jim Fox, cite your sources, because your whole argument is BS. Illegals (of which I am not in favor of) are incarcerated at levels less than the general public. Also, Illegal aliens are not eligible for ANY Federal Benefits, zero, besides in some instances being eligible for WIC, NO housing, No welfare, Food Stamps. ZERO.

They aren't allowed to have welfare? food stamps? Listen WHY do I have to educate you? ANY illegal alien with minor children get the while 9 yards. Seriously who do you think pays for the birth of these children? the Easter Bunny?

Like I told the person above...u can't go by statistics and sit in your nice comfy house and judge others off of statistics and shit you read in the paper....I know alottttt of immigrants personally and they DO NOT qualify for benefits...and they work their asses off and when they need to go to the doctor they don't get to depend on Medicaid...they have to pay out of pocket

Okay what are the correct numbers? unless you feel all these services are free? fake blood as well?

I want those jobs for those who are citizens. You don’t speak for me when you say “those” jobs are beneath me. I chose to work those jobs!! Who are you? The 1%. We need those jobs and are happy to be Americans filling those jobs to feed our families. These are starter jobs. We start there and find something better as we gain more experience. I started there and wasn’t embarrassed. I was happy to be working for a living. Happy to be part of the working class. I could work and I wanted to work and I chose that work. So those of you out there that think you know what everyone wants because you make decisions for the masses with your emotions... Stop!!! Let each of us decide what we want individually in our lives. We don’t need you to tell us what is best for everyone else.

ILLEGAL ALIEN immigrants ?!?... NO !... NO !... NO !... NO !... (Ad Infinitim ! ! ! ) [ The resulting "demographics change" would begin to destroy the UNITES STATES OF AMERICA forever, within two decades. ]


BS. First of all the illegals and the entitlements we the Floridians pay for cancels out what the legal immigrants pay. overcrowded schools and hospitals take services away from Americans who pay for these services. If a living wage was paid then Americans would be happy to work. Instead the businesses pay low wages and push illegals and immigrants onto government programs at the detriment of Americans. The also have sucked $1.5 billion out of the economy without paying taxes as wiring overseas is not taxed. Only 5% of immigrants are in the field the rest is automated. So why are we continuing to let low skilled workers into America? To satisfy and subsidize business and gain more voters for the DNC. Stop comparing old immigration policy to current day. Our ancestors did not live on the government dole aka my tax dollars. Our ancestors were happy to live in America become Americans and respect our laws. How about working with Americans first. Close the border see who is here, what we need and then start again with a merit based program. It is a privilege to be and American not a right.

Thank you for bringing some context to the issue of the article. Immigrants of past Never lived on tax payer money. Everyone was trying to make their own way. Agriculture was the main component of Economy. No child labor laws. No Unions. We were just trying to figure it all out. We weren’t spending most of GDP on welfare. Charity was the safety net for those in need, not Government Coersion.

What a pile of Progressive garbage this is. There is no mention of how much of our taxes go to supporting Illegal Aliens and their extended families. Also, of the ones that actually work, how much of their earnings are sent to family members in their home countries. Money that in NOT spent in Florida. The down side of harboring illegal aliens way out weighs the small amount of good. How about we all push for everyone to become citizens first and then we can talk about immigration. BTW Has anyone bothered to ask the millions of legal immigrants that too the time to become American citizens how they feel about this Compact?

It's not just Florida that benefits from immigrants. 90% of all restaurant kitchen help, in every state, are immigrants. Jobs, even the middle class won't take. Landscape, construction and road maintenance too. Why? Because naturalized citizens don't want those jobs. They're below them. Without immigrants, (yes, even the illegal ones) this country's economy would wither and die.


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