Thursday, July 22, 2010

Conservative National Leaders Take Message “On the Road” Urging Action on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

HOUSTON, TEXAS. On Wednesday, July 21st at 2:00 PM EDT (1:00pm CT, 11:00am PCT), Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CfCIR) took its National Press Conference Call “on the road” to Houston, Texas where Rev. David Fleming, Senior Pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church, hosted the call. Rev. Fleming has been leading a Coalition of over 400 Houston-area pastors to call for secure borders, reform of the immigration system and a just process for legal status for specified illegal immigrants. “We are drawn into this conversation personally more than politically as we have a large and growing immigrant congregation. God is for justice, he established the government and we are to be submissive to it. At the same time, we are to be compassionate Christians, not just concerned citizens. We need a balance in our laws between compassion and justice.”

Mary Giovagnoli, Executive Director of the Immigration Policy Center, discussed the need to mesh the values of the rule of law and compassion together with the positive economic value of immigration reform. Ms. Giovagnoli cited a recent study by the Immigration Policy Center which found that $1.5 trillion would be added to the GDP over 10 years if immigration reform were to pass. “When people have a rational and legal way to enter and leave the country, these people invest more in themselves and their communities, they consume more, they give more back. It’s a win-win for us. But if we continue to put most of our resources into enforcement-based strategies and not try to solve the problem in a broader way, we’d find a cut in our gross domestic product of $2.6 trillion over the next 10 years”

As Mayor of Santa Ana, CA, one of the youngest and most conservative cities in the nation, Mayor Mike Pulido spoke about the contributions that immigrants make to the local economy and the vital social fabric of the community he leads. “Part of what we need to do with immigration reform is to try to embed in our policies a concept of spiritual justice. There’s legal and political justice but what is the morally, ethically and spiritually right thing to do, and what we would benefit the whole community? The city of Santa Ana has excellent relationships with our undocumented residents because of our long-term approach to immigration and how we have worked together with them to build stronger communities. We need to bring compassion into this debate, understanding that with a more elevated, enlightened discussion, we will prevail.”

Luawanna Hallstrom, Western Vice President of the National Council of Agricultural Employers, is an appointee through Governor Schwarzenegger to the California Board of Food and Agriculture. “Farmers today are committing to crops they don’t know whether they’ll be able to harvest. If the labor isn’t there, there won’t be a crop. It’s basically a matter of economic life or death for these farmers,” stated Ms. Hallstrom. “Laborers are the most important resource that we have after land and water—they are the machine that drives the industry. It’s obvious that the chaos of not having access to an assured legal labor force has created a national disaster in the economy and socially. It could threaten our food supply, which is national security at the most fundamental level.”

“Small-business owners are among the most trusted and reliable messengers to their communities and to Members of Congress. Business owners are working to educate the public that immigration reform is not only compassionate, but in their own self-interest,” said Tamar Jacoby, President and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA, a leading organization of employers advocating for improved immigration policies, talked about how small business owners support reform. “A lot of the 60% of the people who see something to support in the Arizona law aren’t racist—they just want someone to solve the problem, for goodness’ sake! We need not to inflame the debate but to reach out to those people and say ‘We share your frustration, join our army in the fight for reform.’”

Max Finberg, Director, USDA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, discussed immigration from the perspective of what would impact all Americans- food. “An estimated half of the food that we eat is touched by immigrant hands--from the fields to processing to slaughtering and poultry, to the hands that serve it to us. If we don’t pass comprehensive immigration reform, we could eat half as much, or we could pay another 5-10% of our disposable income for food costs. Here in the United States, we enjoy the safest, most abundant food source in the world and we pay 10-15% less than the rest of the developed world. If we take immigrants out of the equation, we will no longer be able to spend on other things the money we save now on food. So as a nation of eaters, we need immigration reform.”

Robert Gittelson, co-founder of Conservatives for CIR, concluded by saying that comprehensive immigration reform is a “federal stimulus which does not require deficit spending, and does not cost the American tax-payer anything. It actually will reduce the federal deficit through increased tax revenue, as well as reducing our trade deficit by increasing exports. It promotes job creation, and since CIR is financed by the private sector, it should be passed as soon as possible.”

CfCIR is a coalition of pastors and conservative leaders representing millions of conservatives across the country, highlighting the need for a just assimilation policy that respects Biblical mandates and protects the rule of law and family values.

KJ

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