Esther M. Gentile for New America Media: “On the Frontlines of Immigration Reform”: The personalities behind some of the nation’s top immigrant rights groups describe the life experiences that inspired them to join the fight for comprehensive immigration reform. New America Media spoke with Angela Kelley of the Center for American Progress, Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum, Andrea Black of the Detention Watch Network, Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza, Frank Sharry of America’s Voice and Karen Narasaki of the Asian American Justice Center.
Steve Case, AOL Co-founder and Revolution LLC Chairman:
“The story of America is the story of entrepreneurs starting new businesses and imagining whole new industries. Immigrant entrepreneurs are a central part of that story. We have the world’s leading economy in part because we have attracted the world’s most talented people. Ensuring that the best and brightest innovators and entrepreneurs start and help companies here in the United States, not in competitor nations abroad, will strengthen our economic competitiveness in the long term. This is why Democrats and Republicans should come together to fix our immigration system, as quickly and as broadly as possible, including urgent action on high-skilled visas.”
Kenneth McClure, Counsel, Idaho Business Coalition for Immigration Reform:
“The contribution of foreign-born labor to the Idaho economy is substantial. A vibrant economy demands labor that local supply is unable to supply. That’s why we need labor [immigration] solutions at both ends of the [economic] spectrum.”
Angela Smith Jones, Director of Public Policy, Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce:
“For the United States to continue to compete, we have to have an educated workforce, we need to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants and we have to have immigration reform. The key to America’s success is to educate, strengthen the workforce, and bolster the economic core and tax base.”
Jeb Bush Jr., Chief Operating Officer, Jeb Bush & Associates, LLC:
“For immigration to move forward in the next year, we need leaders from both parties come together and say ‘enough is enough. Let’s move forward.’ [Immigration reform] is about being competitive. That’s the bottom line. You have to have a competitive workforce. You have to have a competitive product to succeed … it’s at the core of being a capitalist.”
Dr. David Fleming, Senior Pastor, Champion Baptist Church, Houston:
“Immigration is not a political issue for us, it’s a moral, biblical, personal issue for us … We are building a consensus [on immigrants and America] outside the Beltway that will have implications inside the Beltway.”
Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief:
“We are at the precipice of immigration reform. Our faith commands that we welcome immigrants, and our country has an opportunity to enact policies that reflect our biblical values of justice, compassion and hospitality.”
The Honorable Mark Shurtleff, Attorney General, Utah:
“The immigration issue is an issue of freedom, of human dignity and of a country coming together to do the right thing … America is uniquely rooted in the concept that no matter who you are or where you come from, you should be able to succeed here if you roll up your sleeves and work hard.”
Chris Burbank, Chief of Police, Salt Lake City:
“I do not believe that local law enforcement should be acting as immigration enforcement agents. Immigration is a federal issue.”
Mayor Paul Bridges (R), Uvalda, Georgia:
“My Republican friends here inside the Beltway need to look at this issue for what it really is … put that legislation out there and do it now. Fix the problem. I think that the new consensus that we have is the master mechanic that will fix this problem with immigration.”
Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum:
“Americans are ready for a new immigration solution. Today, leaders who hold a Bible, wear a badge or own a business are taking the next step toward that solution. 2013 will be the dawn of a new day on immigrants and immigration.”
NATIONAL STRATEGY SESSION IS “OPENING SHOT” FOR REFORM EFFORTS
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Over 250 faith, law enforcement and business leaders from 26 states gathered today at the National Strategy Session to debut newly energized efforts — including Capitol Hill visits with key lawmakers — to push for broad immigration reform in early 2013.
This gathering builds on two years of hard work outside Washington, including successful regional summits, state compacts and other efforts in the Mountain West, Southeast and Midwest at which hundreds of business, faith and law-enforcement leaders have built new relationships, discussed state policies and urged pragmatic federal solutions. Now, these conversations are turning into action. This critical new alliance is ready to drive the issue to the fore and apply pressure on Republicans and Democrats in Congress and on President Obama to ensure that broad immigration reform is the first legislative priority in 2013.