(Miami-Dade County, FL) -- Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz returned from Washington last night, after meeting with several Congressional leaders and key officials in President Barack Obama’s administration. The commissioner was able to discuss the “Joining Forces” initiatives, sex trafficking, and the approved Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, among other key issues including the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and how the Budget Control Act also mandated an additional $1 trillion reduction in federal spending because the Super Committee failed to come up with an alternative plan resulting in sequester.
Commissioner Diaz, who serves as the County’s military liaison, was able to meet with Captain Brad Cooper, Executive Director of the Joining Forces and who reports directly to First Lady Michelle Obama. The commissioner stressed the importance of local government’s role in developing solutions to veterans’ employment and our economic recovery. “It’s extremely vital that we ensure all of our men and women, after serving our country, have the resources they need to find employment in small businesses and companies within Miami-Dade County,” said Commissioner Diaz. “Many small businesses don’t realize they can receive tax credit when they hire veterans and as the military liaison, I will be making sure they have this information available.” Joint Forces is a national initiative to support and honor America’s service members and their families. Joint Forces was spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden; the initiative focuses on employment, education, and wellness for our military families.
The commissioner also had a chance to meet with United States Senator Marco Rubio to personally thank him for his leadership regarding sex trafficking, export and import business and to hear the Senator’s views on the “Dream Act”. In the past, Commissioner Diaz has worked with a local organization that cares for hundreds of U.S.-born children whose parents have been deported and feels there are unjust immigration policies for these children. Senator Rubio, who has an immigration plan, reiterated to the commissioner how his plan will offer a non-resident visa to children whose parents brought them to the United States. The children will have to renew the visa until they finish school. He hopes after they finish school, they will become legal residents. Rubio also stated he is against deporting children.
Other meetings with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Congressman David Rivera and United States Senator Bill Nelson focused on the Visa Waiver agreements and the U.S. Trade agreements. All members agreed that once the U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement takes effect on May 15, 2012, it will have a positive economic impact in Miami-Dade County, where international trade already generates billions of dollars for our community. Commissioner Diaz is a member of the Federal Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee on Trade under the Office of the United States Trade Representative. He supported the passage of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, all of which were approved by Congress last October. Last July, Commissioner Diaz also co-sponsored legislation calling on the federal government and Congress to ease visa restrictions in certain countries, including Brazil. In 2010, 1.2 million Brazilians visited the United States, injecting $5.9 billion into the United States’ economy.