Secretary Michael Chertoff Discusses State of Immigration Reform Debate

Assistant Director of Communications

September 11, 2013

As Keynote Speaker for Panel Discussion in North Carolina, Former Secretary of Homeland Security Draws on His Experience to Stress Importance of Commonsense Reform

RALEIGH, N.C.Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff discussed the importance and magnitude of the timely debate on comprehensive immigration reform Tuesday in North Carolina, drawing on his unique perspective impacted by faith, law enforcement and business standpoints. Emphasizing the urgency of reform, Secretary Chertoff addressed the current immigration system as unsustainable for the economy of North Carolina and the nation as a whole.

As a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Immigration Task Force, Secretary Chertoff joined Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform and the North Carolina Farm Bureau to discuss, as a keynote speaker, the current immigration reform debate from his valuable experience. He was a lead negotiator in the attempt to reform immigration laws in 2007 and was intimately involved in developing and implementing border security and immigration policy.

A panel discussion of North Carolina faith and business leaders spoke about broad reform following Secretary Chertoff’s keynote speech, expressing the value of an America that effectively welcomes and manages immigration.

The following quotes can be attributed to speakers from the event:

Keynote:

Secretary Michael Chertoff, Former Secretary of Homeland Security, BPC Immigration Task Force Member:

“The time is right to do this, for our economy, for our border enforcement system and for our obligation to our fellow human beings.”

Panel Discussion:

Whitney C. Christensen, Esq., Government Affairs Manager and Staff Attorney, North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA):

“The hospitality industry has an especially large stake in the immigration reform debate, especially as a labor issue. Our industry faces large and pressing labor shortages in North Carolina and nationwide. Our field is growing and we’re already understaffed. It’s a labor issue for us, but also a patronage issue.”

Raudel Hernandez, Pastor, Summit en Español:

“[Immigration] is vital to us because it breaks our hearts when congregation members say they want to get things fixed and do the right thing, and there’s no process for them to fix and amend what has happened…It’s important to understand that this is not amnesty. These folks definitely would definitely be paying their dues for becoming residents here. This is a pathway that needs to exist.”

Charles Kuck, Managing Partner, Kuck Immigration Partners LLC:

“Immigration reform must not fall to the bottom of anyone’s list.  Reform will be a positive economic, societal and familial benefit to all of America… I know that America as a nation of immigrants is way better than America as a nation not of immigrants. That dream is no different today than it was in 1928 when my grandparents came here…  I expect immigration reform to pass this fall.”

Bert Lemkes, Co-Owner, Van Wingerden International, Inc.:

“70 percent of labor force in agriculture is undocumented. Something has to be done. The other 30 percent will lose their jobs if the other 70 percent does not show up… There is a large group in the population that does not understand that the undocumented here work hard, pay taxes, pay social security. They keep saying the solution is border security, but what they don’t understand is that the best border security is a good immigration system.”

Larry Wooten, President, North Carolina Farm Bureau:

“[Immigration] is a federal issue, but the inaction by Congress is putting an enormous pressure on the North Carolina legislature… [Reform] is about more than about just jobs; this is about life and death sometimes, and I believe as a state and as a nation we are better than this.”