Midwestern Business and Civic Leaders Call for Immigration Reform at DC Summit

February 28, 2013
Bipartisan Group Offers Recommendations and Outlines Priorities for the Midwest to Ensure U.S. Economic Competitiveness 

February 28, 2013 WASHINGTON - At an immigration summit in Washington today, a diverse and bipartisan group of Midwestern business and civic leaders will release a report urging immigration reform to ensure regional and national economic competitiveness. Former Midwest Governors Chet Culver and Michael Rounds as well as former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Crate and Barrel Co-Founder Carole Segal will discuss the report from a bipartisan task force convened by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Follow @ChicagoCouncil and #MidwestImmigration for live tweeting from the event starting at 9:30 am ET. Download the report at MidwestImmigration.org.

“Like the rest of America, the Midwest is frustrated with federal immigration policy, and states are coping as best they can,” said Michael Rounds, former governor of South Dakota, and task force co-chair. “But the region’s growing need for immigrant workers and its deepening appreciation of the talent and vitality they bring require Midwesterners to be active in demanding better answers from Washington.”

The task force report, US Economic Competitiveness at Risk: A Midwest Call to Action on Immigration Reform, analyzes the role of immigration in ensuring the Midwest’s future competitiveness and prosperity and identifies necessary policy directions or interventions. It argues immigrants are essential to the region’s and the nation’s future prosperity and key to economic revitalization.

“Even with today’s high unemployment, employers in many sectors—high-tech, agriculture, the seasonal economy—need immigrants to keep their businesses open and contributing to the economy,” said John Rowe, chairman emeritus of the Exelon Corporation, and task force co-chair. “As the economy improves, this need will only grow—global talent will play an essential role in the nation’s economic recovery.”

In addition to outlining the Midwest’s priorities for immigration reform, the report illustrates how states, municipalities, educators, employers, faith leaders and others across the Midwest are stepping up with local solutions to help newcomers thrive in their communities.

“If 53 Republican and Democratic leaders—drawn from companies, law firms, universities, nonprofits, law enforcement, hospitals, foundations, advocacy groups and communities of faith—from the 12-state Midwest can support these recommendations, then surely our representatives in Washington can as well,” said Marshall M. Bouton, president of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The report caps a 15-month initiative that also included a series of “Immigration Forums” that were held in seven cities across the Midwest and a website, MidwestImmigration.org, to enhance public understanding of immigration and its importance to the region. The initiative is also working to assemble a group of 500 business, political and civic leaders who broadly endorse the task force’s findings and recommendations.

This project builds on previous Chicago Council work on immigration issues, including the Heartland Paper “Mexican Immigration in the Midwest: Meanings and Implications” (2009); 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).

Generous funding for this project has been provided by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Exelon Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and Chicago Council Board member and task force co-chair Clare Muñana.

Chet Culver, fomer Governor, Iowa
Richard M. Daley, former Mayor, City of Chicago
Joe Loughrey, former President and COO, Cummins, Inc
Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow, Migration Policy Institute
Clare Muñana, President, Ancora Associates Inc.
M. Michael Rounds, former Governor, South Dakota
John Rowe, Chairman Emeritus, Exelon Corporation
Samuel C. Scott III, retired Chairman, President, and CEO, Corn Products International, Inc.
Carole Segal, Co-founder, Crate and Barrel

Tamar Jacoby, President and CEO, ImmigrationWorks, USA