UnidosUS Joins State Lawmakers and Advocates in Calling for Inclusive Policies Critical to Florida’s Economic Future

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—UnidosUS (formerly NCLR)—the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization—joined State Representatives Rene Plasencia and Cindy Polo, State Senators Annette Taddeo and Javier Jose Rodriguez, and its Florida Affiliates in calling for inclusive policies that would positively impact Florida’s Hispanic community and the state’s overall future. Leaders came together at a morning press event to lift up a series of bills moving through the state legislature, including a measure that would allow Florida’s English learners to take state assessment tests in their native tongue (Florida Senate Bill 1590/HB 1213), as well as an anti-immigrant bill (Florida Senate Bill 168) that would threaten Florida’s workforce and erode trust in local law enforcement.

The Native Language Assessment bill (SB 1590) would ensure English learners receive a quality educational experience by allowing them to take standardized assessment tests in their native language. Florida’s public schools have the third-largest English learner population in the country, currently enrolling 300,000 students and representing one of the fastest-growing segments of Florida’s school-aged population.

“Florida is home to many immigrants and students who are learning English, so it’s critical that policies enacted by the legislature support this community and protect their contributions to the state’s economy and workforce,” said Jared Nordlund, UnidosUS’s Florida Senior Strategist. “UnidosUS wholly supports the passage of SB 1590; this is a policy that will not only empower our English learners and set them on a path to academic success, but ensure a better future for Florida.”

Another measure being considered by lawmakers is an anti–sanctuary cities bill that would force local and state law enforcement to serve as federal immigration agents and threaten Florida industries.

“We are also voicing our concerns regarding SB 168, which would create a hostile environment for immigrants, undermine trust in law enforcement, and potentially cause workers in critical industries such as tourism, agriculture and construction to leave the Sunshine State. Enactment of SB 168 would also result in significant economic losses for the state, including a loss of jobs, tax revenue and GDP. SB 168 is bad for the people of Florida in many ways, and we ask lawmakers to vote against it,” Nordlund concluded.

According to data from the bipartisan research and advocacy organization New American Economy, nearly 90 percent of undocumented immigrants in Florida are of working age (ages 16–64). They pay $1.7 billion each year in taxes, including more than $543.2 million in state and local taxes, and hold $13 billion a year in spending power to inject into the local economy. The costs of losing a significant portion of these workers could be substantial for Florida’s economy and long-term prosperity.