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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rep. Kathy Castor, Tampa business leaders discuss immigration reform



Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, met with Tampa business leaders Friday to discuss immigration reform on the heels of a deal in the U.S. Senate that would spend tens of billions of dollars to double the number of border patrol agents and increase other security measures.

“I think it’s clear to everyone that the current immigration system in America is broken,” Castor said at a news conference after a meeting with the Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber supports immigration reform and members said that they rely on immigrant labor to keep the local economy strong.

The overarching idea is to make it "a more consolidated effort to bring more individuals into the country,” said Zach Curry, general manager at the Tampa Airport Marriott, “whether that be for tourism or for the workforce options as well.”

Peter Anderson, senior vice president of Vology, Inc. -- a technology company based in Tampa -- and immigrant from England, said barriers on immigration make it hard for newcomers to achieve “the American dream.”

“We think all the time the worst. So the first thing about it is, ‘Are you a felon?’ ” Anderson said. “We make it so difficult, we don’t think about the positives."

Castor said she hopes immigration reform will help immigrants start small businesses in the United States and grow the workforce.

“More immigrants start small businesses than any other profile,” Castor said. “For this community and the state of Florida, our economy is dependent on a diverse workforce.”

[Last modified: Friday, June 21, 2013 4:50pm]


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