This morning, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a powerful call to action on immigration reform. The report, developed by a blue ribbon panel over the past 14 months, makes a strong case for the important role that immigrants (not just high tech entrepreneurs and engineers) play in the Midwest’s economy. When you think about ground zero for immigration debates, you probably think of Arizona, Florida, Texas, and maybe Chicago. But, you probably don’t think about St. Louis, Fargo, or Willmar, Minnesota. All of these communities are profiled in the study–along with many others who are struggling to embrace new immigrants despite an outdated set of immigration laws and rules.
The study reminds us that immigration reform is a critical issue for all American communities, and that smart reforms will make a difference across the country. Immigration reform should not be an issue to score political wins; it is an imperative for our future economic competitivness.
I attended the release event, and I was particularly impressed by the opening remarks from John Rowe, Chairman Emeritus of Exelon Corporation and a Task Force Co-Chair. He quipped that: “I’m conservative, but I don’t know when it became conservative to stop people (i.e. undocumented immigrants) who want to work and pay taxes.” He also concluded that immigration reform is one issue where “the moral imperatives and the economic imperatives are the same.” Well said!