Ahead of Primary, Local Leaders Urge Better Immigration Conversation

Communications Associate

April 25, 2016

PITTSBURGH — Local leaders gathered Friday for a panel to foster a more positive conversation on immigrants and immigration reform.

Participants emphasized the positive impact that immigrants have had on our communities and economy. Speakers also stressed that immigration reform would create a better America for both immigrants and the native-born.

Through the winter and spring, “America Is Better: Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform” events in IowaNew HampshireNevadaOklahomaGeorgiaAlabamaTexasMichiganSouth CarolinaIllinoisFloridaColoradoUtahOhio and Arizona have underscored the desire for a constructive conversation and a better immigration process.

The following are quotes from speakers at Friday’s event:

Dan Cramer, Pastor, Zion Christian Church, Pittsburgh:

“Our Pittsburgh neighborhood, Carrick, has seen a huge influx of refugees from Bhutan and some refugees from additional countries over the last six years. These warm, kind and hardworking people have made our neighborhood a better place. It is our joy to support their integration into America.”

Ashley Lively, Immigration Attorney, JBM Legal, LLC, Pittsburgh:

“Immigration reform is important because without a system that provides a meaningful way to obtain legal status, we have a system that is such a waste of human capital that has the immense capability to improve the American dream for all. We need reform so we can reunify families, create a more robust economy for all, and focus on humanitarian concerns that are so central to our identity as a leader in the world.”

Gonzalo Manchego, Business & Sustainability Consulting Manager, Duquesne University Center for Green Industries and Sustainable Business Growth, Pittsburgh:

“As an immigrant from Peru, I know firsthand that immigrants recognize the contributions to world freedom and want to be part of this great nation. Immigrants are bridges to job creation, not only competition for existing jobs. Immigrants can help us penetrate various markets around the world because we know other cultures.”

Valerie McDonald Roberts, Chief Urban Affairs Officer, Office of Mayor William Peduto, Pittsburgh:

“Mayor Peduto is committed to Pittsburgh being a welcoming city for immigrants and refugees.  The mayor has faced many headwinds, but continues to support welcoming immigrants.”

Brandon Mendoza, Government Affairs Manager, Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce:

The Pittsburgh region has an acute need for highly skilled domestic and international talent to continue the economic renaissance occurring here.”

Rich NoblePastor, Washington Union Alliance Church, New Castle:

“The current immigration system in the United States is broken and in desperate need of reform that is both compassionate and wise. And the Church of Jesus Christ should be right in the middle of it, welcoming and loving the stranger while helping the government think through this issue and enact legislation that is just. If God’s people are called to love, then let us love and be willing to take risks in order for that to happen.”