US Economic Competitiveness at Risk: A Midwest Call to Action

February 28, 2013

By: Tamar Jacoby, President and CEO, ImmigrationWorks USA; Chet Culver, Former Governor of Iowa; Richard M. Daley, Former Mayor, City of Chicago; Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow, Migration Policy Institute; former Commissioner, US Immigration and Naturalization Service; Clare Muñana, President, Ancora Associates, Inc; And other participants

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs launched a bipartisan task force in December 2011 to inform Midwestern leadership and public understanding of immigration and its importance to the region’s economic future. The task force seeks to forge consensus around, and build support for, sensible immigration policy at the state and national levels. 

Led by nine cochairs, the task force is comprised of approximately 40 members from across the Midwest, including private sector leaders (from Fortune 500 companies, Midwestern farm bureaus and entrepreneurs), subject matter experts, policy practitioners, and civic leaders (including religious leaders and presidents of universities and foundations). Together they developed a report that outlines the rationale and key principles needed for sound immigration policy.

On February 28, 2013, task force cochairs and members participated in an immigration summit in Washington, DC where the report, US Economic Competitiveness at Risk: A Midwest Call to Action on Immigration Reform, was released. The report highlights the role of immigration in ensuring the Midwest’s future competitiveness and prosperity and identifies necessary policy directions or interventions.

Task force accomplishments and ongoing activities include:
  • Conducted a survey on Midwest views on immigration. Developed, fielded, analyzed, and reported on the views of over 1000 Midwesterners and compared them to national responses.
  • Hosted a series of Midwest immigration forums. The task force generated public discussions and engagement through a set of immigration forums around the twelve-state Midwest region during the summer of 2012. These forums provided the opportunity for discussion of the task force’s draft report and assessed how closely the report reflected the realities of immigration in communities across the Midwest.  
  •  Launched an immigration-focused website. Develop and launch a new micro site focused on Immigration in the Midwest including demographics from each state, the role of immigration in the past and current local economy, key policy issues contested in each state, among other topics.
  • Assembling the Group of 500. The task force will attract a Group of 500 Midwestern leaders and organizations in support of the group’s findings.
  • Commissioned Spotlight Stories. Nine spotlight stories chosen for their regional diversity, illustration of high- and low-skilled labor, and their ability to highlight one or more key aspects of the immigration debate in the Midwest will be published in the final report.
  • Commissioned New Midwest Data. New research data on immigrants in the Midwest and their population trends, regions of origin, education levels, and occupations will be published in the final report.
  • Releasing a final report. The task force will produce a final report articulating the Midwest’s stake in immigration and make clear what the region needs fixed for it to remain economically competitive.  The report is scheduled to be release on February 28, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
  • Undertake dissemination efforts. Communicate the key findings and views of the Group of 500 to key Midwestern constituencies, national opinion leaders, and policymakers in Washington, DC.
Tamar Jacoby, president and CEO of ImmigrationWorks, USA is the project director and lead author for the task force. Jacoby, the Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation, is a nationally known journalist, author of Someone Else’s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration, and editor of Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and What It Means To Be American, a collection of essays about immigrant integration.  

Generous funding for this project is being provided by the Exelon Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Lumina Foundation, and Chicago Council Board Member Clare Muñana.
US Economic Competitiveness at Risk: A Midwest Call to Action

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