Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio are facing pressure from a group of Central Florida leaders to pass bipartisan legislation that would give more security to some of the roughly 490,000 immigrants living in the region.
What's happening: Business, political and religious leaders are warning of a post-pandemic worker shortage in industries such as agriculture and hospitality, and they're urging across-the-aisle cooperation.
- They're specifically calling for Congress to pass pending legislation such as the Durbin-Graham Dream Act of 2021, the Bennett-Crapo Farm Workforce Modernization Act, or the SECURE Act.
The backdrop: The call comes as a U.S. District Court judge in Texas weighs whether to end DACA, which the leaders say would threaten economic recovery.
Between the lines: One in three hospitality workers in Florida are immigrants, and there are some 60,000 Temporary Protected Status recipients living in the state, many of them Venezuelans.
- Roughly 50% of workers in the Central Florida agriculture industry are immigrants.
What they're saying: "We worry about our ability to continue to grow without an adequate workforce," said Arianna Cabrera de Ona, senior vice president of HR and general counsel of Costa Farms, during a press conference.
- "Every president has accepted the idea of comprehensive immigration reform, and yet we’ve got nothing to show for it," said Al Cardenas, former chairman of the Florida Republican Party.
- "When you have over 1,000 CEOs clamoring for reform, it's not about politics," he added.
Axios couldn't reach Scott, but Rubio blamed the Biden administration for a crisis on the Southern border.
- "I have made it clear that a blanket amnesty for those who are in the country unlawfully is a non-starter," Rubio said in a statement. "It is impossible to do anything substantive on immigration until President Biden enforces existing immigration law."
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