Top Florida Business, Law Enforcement and Faith Leaders Urge Action on Immigration Reform

Digital Communications Manager

August 29, 2013

For a recording of today’s call, click here.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Top Florida faith, law enforcement and business leaders called for action on immigration reform during a statewide telephonic press conference Wednesday afternoon. The leaders spoke as a crucial August recess for the House of Representatives hurtles toward the finish line.  

The call, sponsored by the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network as a part of the #BBBwinsAugust campaign, featured Florida business leaders from a variety of industries, the Orange County sheriff and the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops. The call further underscores the momentum of Bibles, Badges and Business leaders who have been gathering across the country to show their members of Congress that they and their constituencies will support courageous lawmakers who act on broad immigration reform.


The following quotes can be attributed to speakers on Wednesday’s call:

Brewster Bevis, Senior Vice President, Associated Industries of Florida:

“Our businesses and our members down here are lacking a workforce in many areas. … Let’s secure our border. Let’s create a guest worker program to allow workers into the country to fill work needs. Let’s create a means for undocumented workers currently here in the United States to gain legal work status. This is something that we believe needs to be done at the federal level on a comprehensive scale, not piecemeal.”

Jerry Demings, Sheriff, Orange County, Fla.:

“We value and support any processes that allow our [residents] to efficiently seek lawful status. As we see it, the Bibles, Badges and Business principles are an excellent way to bridge gaps as we move forward on comprehensive immigration reform. From a law enforcement perspective, we believe this is the right way to go, and we’re in support of this initiative.”

Mr. Ralph Egües, Executive Director, National Hispanic Landscape Alliance:

“You would think that since ours is the nation of immigrants, America would be the international model for doing immigration right. Of course we know that nothing could be further from the truth. My hope is that through immigration reform we can move away from a dreadfully broken system that forces the labor needed to expand our economy to either sneak in or overstay visas. In order to grow the jobs that the domestic workforce wants and is prepared to fill, we’ve got to have an adequate supply of both high- and low-skill labor.”

Heather Kenyon, President and CEO, Tampa Bay Technology Forum:

“We feel that losing top engineering and other tech talent because they are forced to return to their home countries makes no sense. They’ll take what they learned here and help grow other nations’ tech industries instead of ours. … We have 4,000 positions that we can’t fill, and every year it gets worse.”

Kevin Morgan, Executive Assistant to the President, Florida Farm Bureau:

“We must allow law-abiding foreign workers to enter our country and gain employment under a nationally regulated system that serves the interests of employers and employees. We must also address the issue of foreign-born workers currently in our country. If we fail to do this, we will jeopardize our food supply, our economy and our national tradition of providing opportunity for all. I urge the Congress to adopt a sound comprehensive immigration reform policy. Everyone has a stake in this issue.”

Beneva Schulte, Executive Director, inSPIRE STEM USA:

“America suffers a shortage of workers trained in STEM fields, meaning thousands of high-skilled jobs are currently unfilled. Our ability to remain globally competitive rests largely on our ability to reform our immigration system and address the current STEM jobs gap to ensure we’re training the entrepreneurs and innovators of tomorrow.”

Michael Sheedy, Director of Public Policy, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops:

“Ours is a great country because it’s a land of opportunity, family values and compassion. Throughout our history we’ve given newcomers the opportunity to work hard and be successful, to our country’s substantial benefit. Congress has the best opportunity in almost 30 years to pass immigration reform. This is an historic moment in our country, and as Americans we cannot let this moment pass. As a moral matter, our nation must not accept the toil and taxes of these children of God without offering them the protections of our laws, which they so willingly seek.”


Join the conversation on Twitter using #BBBwinsAugust.




Bibles, Badges and Business is a project of the National Immigration Forum and the National Immigration Forum Action Fund.