Convening Brings Unifying Dialogue to Immigration Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A broad coalition from across the country, including a Republican and a Democratic senator, agreed at a convening today that we need a humane, constructive way forward on immigration.

At Leading the Way: An American Approach to Immigration, speakers focused on the economic contributions of immigrants and refugees, what the midterm elections mean for the immigration debate, and immigration’s impact on America’s culture and way of life. Throughout the day’s discussions, a sense of optimism and a desire for cooperation dominated the conversation.

Sens. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) and Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) kicked off the discussion, expressing a shared commitment to bipartisan immigration solutions in the wake of the midterm elections.

“[Immigration] isn’t a partisan issue when you look at the humanity of it,” Lankford said. “It is our responsibility to keep working on this to get as close as we can to an agreement.”

Bennet struck a similarly pragmatic tone: “It’s our responsibility make sure people in our communities feel welcome in the United States,” he said. “We have an opportunity here and we should try to seize it.”

The economic benefits of immigration also were a theme throughout the day. “All of our choices about America’s future greatness are choices about our immigration system,” said Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum. “We cannot let the politics of fear dominate this discussion.”

In the context of the midterm elections, speakers agreed that the nation’s foundational values provide an opportunity for action even in a divided government. “No country has a more powerful, compelling story around immigration than the United States,” said Tim Dixon, Co-founder of More in Common. “The American narrative of ‘out of many, one’ remains strong.”

Voices from the faith community echoed the day’s overarching message. “As Christians, we’re supposed to consider ourselves citizens of God’s kingdom,” said Meghan Smith, Director of College and Career Readiness at the Spartanburg Academic Movement. “We’re missing an opportunity to realize we have common ground.”

“Today’s convening advanced a unifying dialogue on practical immigration reform. The broad range of perspectives we heard today had one thing in common: a sincere commitment to working across geographic and political boundaries to advance solutions that benefit all of us,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “At a time of polarizing rhetoric and divided government, Leading the Way is a reminder that the majority of Americans agree on the need for a compassionate, commonsense approach to American immigration that works for all of us.”

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