5.21.2007

Economy, crime push Puerto Ricans to Florida

Economy, crime push Puerto Ricans to Florida (by Vanessa Bauzá, So. Florida Sun-Sentinel - 5.13.07)

Nelson Santiago grew up in the Bronx but returned to Puerto Rico every summer to see relatives. Eager to reconnect with his roots, he moved to the island six years ago. But his enthusiasm didn't last.

Frustrated with the island's stagnant economy and high crime rate, Santiago moved to Miramar in February, joining other Puerto Ricans who have made Florida their top destination.

"It just made sense to start a family outside of Puerto Rico," said Santiago, 32, a marketing executive who is engaged to be married in August. "Because of the government losing money, because of the crime rate being absolutely horrendous ... I feel as if I was forced out of Puerto Rico."

Santiago is not alone. The island's economic recession and weak prospects for recovery are fueling migration to Florida, experts say.

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