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Hispanic Chamber to Haridopolos: say no to immigration bill

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce sent Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos a letter Thursday registering its opposition to SB 2040, a measure the group said would hurt the state's economy.

"As you well know, Florida, more than Arizona and most other states, depends on tourism as a key economic engine with tourists spending more than $7 billion there annually," Hispanic Chamber President Javier Palomarez wrote.

"Local attempts to address immigration could have the unintended consequence of driving these valuable investors away. Even as these bills are debated, Florida is already losing valuable tourism dollars as the word gets out through similar calls for boycotts as those that occurred in Arizona.

The Hispanic Chamber's position, according to the letter, is that immigration reform is required -- at the federal level, in the U.S. Congress.

The letter comes on the heels of a news conference Thursday morning in the state Capitol where immigration advocates who have protested the bill all week cited the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning organization, as saying implementing an Arizona-style immigration bill could cost Florida $1 billion.

The fallout from a similar law, including litigation costs and losses to the economy could amount to $45 billion, Subhash Kateel of the Florida Immigrant Coalition said.

The immigration debate has drawn opponents from both ends of the political spectrum: activist, progressive organizations are against the legislation, as are business groups, including the Florida Chamber and Associated Industries of Florida.