DNC national chairman rallies for Puerto Rican votes during midterm election

UCF professor studying economic, political impact of Puerto Ricans in Florida

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – University of Central Florida sociology professor Dr. Fernando Rivera has already done studies on the power of the Puerto Rican vote along the all-important Interstate 4 corridor in Florida.

Now, he's working on a new study to see how many Puerto Ricans migrated after Hurricane Maria to call Florida their new home. 

"Primarily, I'm looking at sort of the way Puerto Ricans were displaced by the storm, the experience with the hurricane and why they came to Central Florida," Rivera said. "The numbers, as you might know though, have come to be controversial as to how accurate they are or not."

Officials have given News 6 numbers ranging from 50,000 to 300,000.

Rep. Darren Soto, a Democrat who represents Florida's 9th District, says he is going based on a recent University of Florida study from the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, which estimated about 53,000 evacuees have permanently moved to Florida. 

"I'm using numbers from UF, which they extrapolated from the number of students who enrolled in public schools," Soto said. 

However, for Rivera's study, he says those school enrollment numbers could change too, especially now that's it's summer for students. He is hoping for more permanent data as time continues on as he says many people are planning on going back to Puerto Rico. 

He also says he wants to wait a little bit longer in his research because he knows the impacts that number can have, both economically on the island and politically here in Florida. 

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