Commentary: Florida economy, businesses need H-1B reform

Florida is a land of immigrants. Today, nearly 4 million Floridians were born in other countries, representing the fourth-largest state immigrant population in the United States.

These immigrants have enriched our lives, strengthened our communities and driven growth in our economy. They have helped turn Florida into a vibrant, business-friendly and high-quality-of-life place to live, work, study and raise a family.

Though we have many immigrants in our state, many of our businesses still struggle to access the skilled labor they need to achieve initial or ongoing success, which has a direct impact on our state economy and overall jobs situation.

Of course, immigration and border security are on everyone’s minds these days. But it is important to realize that we can have an immigration system that keeps us safe and protects American jobs and still allows American firms to recruit the best and brightest immigrants to come here to work and build businesses.

When highly skilled immigrants come to the United States — especially to places like the Sunshine State — they tend to stay. Many bring or start families, as well as create businesses that drive growth and innovation, increase wages and create jobs in our communities. Instead of making it harder for such immigrants to come to the United States and to Florida, we should be actively recruiting them and — while making sure none are a threat — making it as easy as possible for them to bring their skills to our economy.

This is vital for our future because there is very serious competition across the globe to find and recruit the most talented people in the world. If the U.S. doesn’t act decisively, we will lose this competition — and our economy and native-born workers will lose out as well.

By Roly Marante for Naples Daily News
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