ORLANDO, Fla. – Following a situation throughout the week that saw hundreds of recent migrants trying to meet with immigration specialists, the lengthy lines outside the Orlando immigration center are finally winding down.
While community leaders and politicians attempted to help those waiting — which took days in many cases — some have wondered: how did the situation become this extreme?
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“Overall, we see a huge backlog because, for two years, there wasn’t much going on by ways of the pandemic,” said Representative Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee). “Now we have a bunch of folks: Venezuelans, Afghans, Ukrainians who are now applying for work visas, travel visas.”
Soto said it’s his understanding that the influx of migrants seeking immigration appointments in Orlando is due to the international coverage of Florida’s labor shortage.
“I believe it’s natural economic forces; we have a labor shortage here in Central Florida, and a huge need in our tourism and agriculture industries for additional workers to come in,” he said.
By Friday evening, only a few people from the vast lines still remained. The group of remaining migrants wrote down their names on a waiting list, allowing for these last few people to leave over the weekend before returning Monday morning for their appointments without losing their place in line.
According to Soto, President Biden assured him that an increase in spending for immigration services was on the way.
“We take it seriously here in Central Florida,” Soto said. “Our members of Congress are responding quickly to get additional resources, personnel and a more orderly system in place.”