Immigration reform could regrow economy, reduce deficit, report says

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CENTRAL FLORIDA - A new report shows that putting millions of illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship would help grow the economy and reduce the deficit.

Florida would be among the top states to benefit-- reaping billions of dollars.

Legalizing immigrants could bring as much as $3 billion to Florida's economy, because millions of immigrants would start paying taxes. The move would also put people to work.

For Troy Gage, the owner of Eat More Produce in Winter Park, a small business, it's about more than growing produce, it's about providing more jobs and making more money.

"I have been here for four years. I feel like I have been a contributing member of society," said Gage, a legal immigrant whose small business employs two dozen people.

He said he is in favor of having every immigrant in the country add to the economy.

"If there are hundreds of thousands of them and they can start getting regular jobs and paying taxes instead of doing things under the table, it could benefit us," said Gage.

A report shows legalizing millions of immigrants and having them on the books working jobs, and possibly even starting their own small businesses, will reduce the deficit by $197 billion in 10 years.

"Bringing these workers out of the shadows and getting them into the economy is the rising tide that will float all boats," said Brook Hines of the Community Business Association of Central Florida.
It is an idea that some argue continues to build on the country's foundation of reaching the American Dream.

"That is what it is all about. I have wanted it ever since I was a little kid," said Gage.

Florida may stand to benefit greatly, because it is the fourth-largest state and has the highest number of legal immigrant business owners paying taxes, so that number could only grow.