Moving Forward: The Immigration Debate and Chicago’s Experience, published in October 2011, is the second report in the Emerging Leaders Perspectives series. The report is a volume of seven essays by The Chicago Council's 2009 Class of Emerging Leaders. It identifies the leading dimensions that makes the immigration debate so challenging to resolve and provides a framework for understanding this important policy issue.
The three main findings of the report are 1) that while economic arguments are often cited in the case for or against immigration, data sets and methodologies used are often designed to serve the interest of a vested party, making it difficult to assess immigration’s net impact in the United States—which can span generations—at a macro level, 2) that the diverse origin of today’s immigrants—from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and South Asia and elsewhere—has revived concerns among some that American culture is under siege, and 3) in the absence of federal action, local and state actors are increasingly driving immigration policy.
The twenty Emerging Leaders who contributed to the report are not all experts on immigration but rather concerned citizens from government, private, and nonprofit sectors who feel strongly that this topic needs urgent attention. It is their hope that this report will be helpful to policymakers who have to make tough decisions on immigration legislation, as well as to everyday citizens who want to read beyond the headlines.