Driver’s Licenses and KidCare are among the priorities for Florida’s immigrant families during this legislative session
Today, March 3rd, the Florida Legislature kicked-off its 60-day session for 2015. Governor Rick Scott delivered the State of the State Address focusing on Florida being the state where everyone should have the opportunity to chase their dreams.
Governor Scott told the story of Gladys Rubio, a Cuban immigrant that came to Florida for a better life and is now a successful meteorologist. Just like Gladys, thousands of immigrants have come to Florida chasing their dreams and willing to work hard for them if they are given an opportunity.
For that reason, we call on the Florida legislature to pass legislation that will allow all potential driver’s to apply for a Driver’s License regardless of their immigration status, and for all children who are legal permanent residents to have access to health care through the KidCare program without having to wait 5 years uninsured and unprotected.
What if Gladys Rubio hadn’t had the opportunity to work legally and apply for a driver’s license? Or if her children didn’t have access to quality health care? Unfortunately, that’s the reality of 730,000 undocumented Floridians who cannot apply for a license because of their immigration status, and the reality of over 20,000 children with legal status in Florida who have to wait 5 years before being covered by KidCare.
We urge Governor Scott’s administration to support these measures, instead of turning his back on immigrant families just like his own Attorney General Pam Bondi did after she added Florida to a lawsuit against DAPA and DACA. These programs would grant relief from deportation and temporary work permits to 253,000 immigrant Floridians. With this lawsuit, Bondi is breaking Scott’s promise to “keep Florida working” by denying access to temporary work permits for the workers that sustain our main economic sectors, agriculture and tourism. It is estimated that more than half of Florida’s farmworkers are undocumented. If our legislature and Scott need more convincing arguments, numbers won’t lie.
If Florida becomes the 12th state to allow driver’s licenses to potential drivers, it could increase its revenue by an additional $8.76 million annually if half of the undocumented population applies for a license. Our state could also draw up to $49 million from federal funds to cover for Kidcare. Finally, Florida could increase its tax revenues by $102 million over 5 years if DAPA and DACA are implemented.