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Florida Business, Faith, Education Leaders Join Call For U.S. Immigration Reform

florida leaders Immigration reform
Matthew Stolpe

Florida reform advocates held a press conference in Tallahassee Wednesday calling for immigration law reform.

The diverse group includes members of Florida’s education, faith, and business sectors: Leticia Adams, director of infrastructure and governance policy of the Florida Chamber of Commerce; Ingrid Delgado, associate for social concerns of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops; Florida State University student Juan Escalante; University of Miami Adjunct Professor Rudy Fernandez; and Mark Schlakman, senior program director for FSU's Center for the Advancement of Human Rights.

The conference corresponded with press events across the nation as part of a “Day of Action” for immigration reform. The group called for what it says is sensible reform: secured borders, an expansion of work and visa programs, an expansion of citizenship opportunities and humane immigration enforcement.

Schlakman calls reform a nonpartisan issue and says legislators shouldn’t wait for stronger enforcement of the current laws.                       

“The reality is the most effective way to enforce immigration law is to have an integrated approach that deals with the estimated 11 million people who are living in the shadows here, provides a reasonable path to citizenship that makes the appropriate adjustments, and overcomes these simple narratives,” Schlakman says.

According to Harper Polling, Florida is ready for a change too. A recent poll reveals 85 percent of Florida voters believe the U.S. immigration system needs changing.

The University of Miami's Fernandez says radical protestors have obscured this support.

“If a silent majority stays silent, an issue can get taken hostage by a very passionate minority,” Fernandez says.

Nationally, according to the same poll, no fewer than 70 percent of voters believe Congress should act on immigration reform this year.