Immigration 2020 Opens Long-Term Conversation on Immigrants and America

Assistant Director of Communications

October 23, 2014

Strategy Session Recording Available Here

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A broad spectrum of leaders gathered Thursday to launch Immigration 2020, an initiative to focus America’s conversation on immigrants and immigration as demographics continue to change.

Their premise: America will thrive when new Americans have the opportunities, skills and status to reach their fullest potential. The National Immigration Forum convened Thursday’s National Strategy Session to launch this conversation. Close to 200 faith, law enforcement, business and other civic leaders from about 20 states participated in person and via live stream.

The following are quotes from speakers during Thursday’s session:

Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum:
“This event would have been impossible a few years ago. Participants looked beyond political divides because we know the value of immigrants and immigration is greater than a piece of legislation or administrative action. Our conversation will help answer what’s next for a diversifying America. Whether we came from Spartanburg or San Diego, we realize America will thrive when all of us have the opportunity to realize our potential, no matter where you were born.”

 Helen Aguirre Ferré, Host, Univision America Radio:
“Too often the immigration debate gets caught up in the political moment. Across the country, however, the conversation dives deeper. Businesses and churches see the accelerating demographic shift in the workforce as a momentum to be embraced. Hispanics understand that assimilation is a reality and not incompatible with the American experience; we share a history and geography that is undeniable.”

Linda Chavez, President of Becoming American Institute:
“Immigrants have been the lifeblood of American prosperity since our founding. By providing opportunities to newcomers, we enrich all Americans.”

James Gill, President of TMG Government and U.S. Army Veteran:
“Immigration reform is critical to securing our border and internal security and to providing the opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs, scientists, and soldiers alike to earn American citizenship. Reform will facilitate the economic growth and vitality that we need in order to prevail in an evolving and complex global economic and security environment.”

Donald Graham, CEO and Chairman, Graham Holdings:
“We’re missing a big opportunity. I don’t think there’s an American who feels that immigration policy as it currently exists makes any sense at all … Where does growth come from? It comes from immigration, period.”

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President and CEO of American Action Forum:
“The policy case for a 21st century immigration system is now accepted across the political spectrum. What remains is to turn good policy into good politics. Today’s conversation is an important step in that direction.”

Robert P. Jones, CEO of the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute:
“Even amid economic concerns about the impact of new immigrants, national public opinion polling throughout 2014 consistently finds majority support for a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally. In the case of unaccompanied children from Central America, recent polling also shows a strong majority of Americans in favor of treating them primarily as refugees while their cases are being reviewed. 

Barbara Kamm, President and CEO, Technology Credit Union:
“My community, Silicon Valley, understands the value of immigrants since nearly half of our technology companies were founded by immigrants who became U.S. citizens. These immigrants have created hundreds of thousands of jobs, and many have become respected philanthropists and supporters of education and the arts in our area. Helping the many foreign-born immigrants who work in Silicon Valley to become U.S. citizens is good for them and their families, good for my company, and good for our community and our economy.”

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform:
“Immigration isn’t a challenge. It’s what makes us great. If we do immigration smarter and more, we will leave the rest of the world in the dust.”

Dr. Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity, University of Southern California:
“Preparing for 2020 means promoting immigrant integration so that we can have the prepared workforce and welcoming communities we need to thrive in the 21st century. Civic and business leaders, in states ranging from Utah to California, are recognizing that immigrants are vital to their state and regional futures and are stepping up to encourage citizenship, build ties across generations, and find a more civil way to discuss the growing pains of a changing America. We need to scale this wisdom nationally, and the Immigration 2020 discussion is an important part of that process.”

Egbert Perry, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Integral:
“The immigrant has played a starring role in America’s past, and ought to continue to be important in her future. There is nothing quite as productive as a person motivated to succeed, whether driven by the need to survive, the pursuit of a better life, fear of failure or the shouldering of the high expectations placed there by a family that has made the opportunity possible. An effective immigration policy is a realization that the immigrant possesses such motivation in disproportionately large doses.”

Rev. Derrick Smith, Senior Pastor of Kaleidoscope Multi-Ethnic Fellowship and Executive Director of SC Test Prep:
As a bible-believing pastor and public school teacher, I am convinced that loving immigrants to this country is worth it because it fulfills the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25 and it helps the voiceless reach their fullest potential.”

To request photos from the Immigration 2020 National Strategy Session, please contact Cathleen Farrell. Join the conversation at #immigration2020.