Letters to the Editor

The vital spirit of new Americans

Despite heated rhetoric over immigration policy throughout much of the presidential election, legislators in Tallahassee are working to advance sensible policies that tap into the strengths of Florida’s new American communities and make our state a more attractive place for business and talent.

Florida’s unemployment rate has declined, thanks in large part to the work of Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican leadership in the Florida Senate and House of Representatives. But that does not change the fact that every day 10,000 Baby Boomers retire across the United States. This trend is especially pronounced in Florida, where more than 1 in 5 residents will be over the age of 65 by 2020. This demographic shift presents serious implications for business in Florida as industry leaders are confronted with the real threat of worker shortages.

I believe we should embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and energy of new Americans and give them the opportunity to contribute fully to our state’s future growth and prosperity.

The Legislature is considering and advancing several bills to do just that. Legislators in both chambers are scheduled to consider a bill to award a seal of biliteracy to high school students who demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language upon graduation. This bill would recognize students who put in the work to learn a foreign language at a time when more employers are operating globally and seeking bilingual candidates.

Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, would eliminate the five-year waiting period for children of legal immigrants to enroll in Florida’s KidCare program and provide approximately 17,000 children access to health care services.

I have faith that Florida’s leaders will seize opportunities like these to secure our state’s economic future and advance Florida’s standing both at home and around the world.

Lincoln Diaz-Balart, former U.S. congressman,