The Chicago Council will build on its immigration work and continue to focus on the economic contributions immigrants make to Chicago, the Midwest, and the nation. Through its Immigration Initiative, the Council will provide analysis and policy recommendations to help bridge the partisan divide on immigration reform during this historic moment.
In February, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a task force report, US Economic Competitiveness at Risk: A Midwest Call to Action on Immigration Reform. Developed by a bipartisan group of over 50 business and civic leaders drawn from the 12-state Midwest, the report argues that immigrants are key to the Midwest’s economic revitalization, particularly as the region has been losing population and undergoing industrial restructuring.
Included in the report are findings from a Chicago Council public opinion survey that show that the more Midwesterners know about shifting immigration flows and changing labor needs, the more likely they are to support immigration reform. According to survey data, Americans today are considerably less threatened by immigration than they have been in the past two decades.
With support from the MacArthur Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust, The Chicago Council will continue the work it began in December 2011. Over the next two years, The Council will conduct more surveys on Americans’ views on immigration; the first looking at business leaders’ views will be released this fall. The Council also will engage the extensive network of the Group of 500 signatories, leverage the initiative’s website, MidwestImmigration.org, and partner with other organizations on Midwest regional forums. Moving forward, the Council will develop new studies that consider the role and trends of immigrants in cities worldwide.
“Few issues are as pressing and important to our region as getting immigration reform right” said Rachel Bronson, vice president of studies at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “We are gratified by the support we are receiving from two of Chicago’s most influential foundations.”
Juliana Kerr, who has worked on a number of the Council’s immigration- and economic development-related reports since 2004, will serve as director of the Immigration Initiative. Previous Chicago Council work on immigration issues includes: the Heartland Paper “Mexican Immigration in the Midwest: Meanings and Implications” (2009); and task force reports, including Strengthening America: The Civic and Political Integration of Muslim Americans (2007); A Shared Future: The Economic Engagement of Greater Chicago and its Mexican Community (2006); and Keeping the Promise: Immigration Proposals from the Heartland (2004).
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