Business, Faith, and Law Enforcement to Discuss Immigration Reform and Policy Nov 7th in DC at Leading the Way

Conservative and moderate Lawmakers and leaders in the business, faith, and law enforcement communities will gather on November 7th in Washington, DC to discuss immigration reform and hear from panels of experts at the National Immigration Forum’s “Leading The Way: An American Approach to Immigration” event.

In the first panel discussion, Senators Cory Gardner and Dick Durbin will receive awards for their efforts on bipartisan immigration reform and discuss their endeavors with Ali Noorani, Executive director of the National Immigration Forum.

In another panel, Cherie Harder, President of the Trinity Forum, Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Michael Wear, Chief Strategist of the AND Campaign will discuss the valuable role of civil discourse, and share ideas on how to bridge ideological difference in order to build greater consensus on immigration reform.

Carmen Best, Chief of the Seattle Police Department, Mark Holden, Senior Vice President of Koch Industries, and Marcela Garcia, Columnist for the Boston Globe, will discuss how immigration benefits America from economic and societal perspectives.

Heather Sells, Reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network, Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, and Andrew Selee, President of the Migration Policy Institute will give an update on what’s happening at the border, factors driving migrants to the US, and how border communities are being impacted. ​

I had the opportunity to attend the National Immigration Forum’s Leading the Way event in 2017, which provided many opportunities to learn first-hand from business, faith, and law enforcement professionals about how flaws in the current immigration system are negatively impacting our society and economy and the solutions they are advocating for. I expect this year’s Leading the Way conference should be just as enlightening.

From a faith perspective, “it is a responsibility to welcome the stranger, but also operate within a nation of laws,” he said. 

From a law enforcement perspective, Noorani stated, “We need to have law and order, but we also want to make sure that law enforcement is getting the information they need from victims of crime who may be immigrants."

This sentiment was echoed by Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo, who I also had a chance to talk with. He explained that enforcement-only legislation like Texas’ SB4 makes undocumented immigrants less likely to cooperate with police, which ultimately makes Texas less safe.

“If the estimated 1.6 million undocumented immigrants in Texas are afraid to give information to investigators that could lead to the apprehension of violent criminals, those criminals will be free to commit more crime that could affect any Texan,” said Chief Acevedo

From a business perspective, Noorani said that “we want to make sure that the American worker and their family are prospering because of immigrants and immigration.

He explained that in the underground economy, corrupt employers often file undocumented immigrants as independent contractors, which allows those employers to avoid employment taxes and undercut business who are playing by the rules. In order to level the playing field for American workers and employers, Noorani said we should make undocumented immigrants earn their legal status.  

“The only way to do that is to make sure that undocumented immigrants earn a path to legal status: they’re passing criminal background checks, they’re paying the proper income taxes, and therefore, crooked employers are not underbidding and undermining American workers, much less businesses who are trying to play by the rules,” he said.

Several business leaders I talked to at the event also supported immigration reform along the lines of what Noorani was advocating for. They cited labor shortages and the economic benefits of having legal immigrants to take open jobs that Americans were unavailable or unwilling to fill.

Dick and Nan Walden, who run the largest pecan farm in the world, told me that the agriculture industry, like many other labor intensive industries, is experiencing a serious shortage of workers. Crops are often left to rot in the field when farmers are unable to find the workers they need to pick them. They called for an improved worker visa program, saying that the current H2A visa often fails to meet farmers seasonal needs because it is not efficient enough.

“In some cases you have to advertise for 75 days that no American wants that job. Well if you have a perishable crop, its gone by then. That’s not going to work. We need practical workable temporary visa programs. We would like to see a guest worker program, we advocate that, and there should be a way to vet these people, give them a biometric ID card and be sure they don’t have a criminal background,” Nan said.

The 2017 Leading the Way conference provided me an exceptional opportunity to learn about the need for and benefits of immigration reform from various experts. I interviewed Ali Noorani about why many faith, business, and law enforcement leaders support commonsense solutions to the immigration system. I strongly recommend attending the upcoming 2019 Leading the Way conference to anyone that has an interest in learning about immigration policy.



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