Conservative Local Leaders in the West Stress Need for Productive Immigration Conversation

Digital and Design Associate

August 4, 2016

DENVER — With immigration remaining a subject for political point-scoring this election year, conservative faith, law enforcement and business leaders in the West remain focused on the need for a more productive conversation.

Their remarks are in keeping with a July Gallup poll in which more than three-quarters of Republican respondents favored the opportunity to earn citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

“Local business, law enforcement and faith leaders across the country are speaking out for the contributions of immigrants and the need for a better conversation around immigration,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “We need to address our broken immigration system in a way that best serves our country’s communities, families and economy. Taking into account what local leaders have to say is the first step toward starting this dialogue.”

The following are quotes from local leaders in the region:

Nick Armstrong, Co-Director, Cole Community Church, Boise, Idaho:
“We are facing the greatest ‘migration crisis’ since World War II. Immigration is increasingly polarizing society, and the Church needs to care for the resident alien. God is sovereign. The movement of people occurs throughout the biblical narrative as well as today. Jesus was a refugee. He said that inasmuch as you welcomed the stranger you welcomed me, and inasmuch as you did not welcome the stranger you did not welcome me. Numerous studies support the idea that refugees make a net contribution to society: economically, socially and culturally.”

Carmen Best, Deputy Chief, Seattle Police Department:
“Our country is made up of immigrants who have helped shape our communities. We need to acknowledge the positive contributions they have made over the course of our history. We also need to exercise tolerance and acceptance.”

Jeff Haanen, Executive Director, Denver Institute for Faith & Work:
“I believe in a better conversation about immigrants because I am a person of Christian faith and believe all men and women are made in the image of God. One of the great dangers of our day is demonizing ‘the other,’ but I believe Christian faith gives us a lens for seeing ‘the other’ as one for whom Christ died. Seeing the inherent dignity of all people must undergird our conversations about immigration and our policy proposals moving forward.”

Warren Klug, General Manager, Aspen Square Hotel, Aspen, Colorado:

“As a business person who is fiscally conservative but has a deep concern for the people on the lower rungs of America’s economic ladders, I believe it is clear that level heads need to come together on responsible immigration reform.

“The great majority of immigrants are hardworking, family-oriented people who are contributors to their local communities: their schools, their local economies, their churches and congregations and to each other. These include people with children who know no other country but the United States.”

Karl H. Mueller, Development Associates International, Colorado Springs:
“As the son of refugees, growing up in an immigrant community I have seen firsthand not only the needs of refugee and immigrant families, but also the ways in which they contribute to our nation.

“I believe it is important for Americans to see and understand the multitude of ways that immigrants enrich our country — culturally, socially and economically. The more we can do as individuals and as a nation to welcome newcomers to the USA and see the way they positively contribute, the richer as a nation we become.”

Norman Stucker, General Manager, PADT Inc., Littleton, Colorado:
“As an immigrant business leader, I think comprehensive immigration reform is needed in our country for both opportunity and equity: opportunity for our economic prosperity and equity because we ourselves are a nation of immigrants.”

Jeff Wasden, President, Colorado Business Roundtable:
“As a Republican businessman in Colorado, the immigration conversation nationally is, quite frankly, embarrassing. It is damaging to our brand as Americans and who we are as a society. As someone with both a heart and a business mind, I believe we need to fix the immigration system to move our economy forward. There is significant agreement on many of the tenets of reform that would positively impact our communities and businesses.”