June 29, 2023

Immigrants fear a new law as advocates, builders try to separate fact from fiction

Louis Llovio writes:

"On a Tuesday morning in early June, a group of construction workers stood outside the Home Depot on North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. Standing with them was a 31-year-old man from Honduras named Guillermo.

Guillermo worked with the small crew as it took on projects for contractors across the city and county.

Guillermo, too afraid to share his last name, has lived in Florida for six years. Now he worries he may have to uproot his family in the wake of a new immigration law going into effect July 1. He doesn’t know any of the details, only what he’s been told by others in the community. But he fears that soon he may not be able to get work.

'I have to feed my family,' he says in Spanish. 'I don’t have any other choice.'

Guillermo is not alone. As the law becomes reality, immigrants and their advocates across the state fear a draconian crackdown that will turn their adopted home into a police state. This, the fear is, will in turn deprive the state’s lifeblood industries — development, hospitality and agriculture — of much needed workers at a time when many businesses are already struggling to meet demand and service customers.


Putting aside the personal and emotional aspects of the argument, the effect of losing a chunk of the state’s workforce will undoubtedly damage Florida’s economy in a big way, says the Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added], which studies budgets and policies.

In a study on the economic impact of SB 1718, the institute [emphasis added] says six industries in the state will feel the biggest hit, including construction, accommodation and food services, retail and agriculture. That’s because nearly 10% of employees — 391,000 — who work in those industries are undocumented.

The study’s authors found that after Georgia passed a similar E-Verify law 12 years ago one farmer lost 300 employees, forcing him to give up working 25% of his 125 acres. It cost him $250,000 a season.

But the damage, the institute [emphasis added] says, won’t be just limited to companies employing the undocumented. The six industries made up 25% of the Florida’s GDP in 2019 and the people they employed earned $12.6 billion in wages. Of those wages, 7.3% went toward paying a total of $923 million in state and local taxes.

So, the institute [emphasis added] says, not only would these industries lose 10% of their workers, but “as a result, Florida's GDP could drop by $12.6 billion in a single year, or 1.1%.”

'Cutting these workers’ spending power means state and local tax revenue would drop as well,' the authors of the study say."

Read more on businessobserverfl.com

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