National Immigration Forum, June 12, 2012


June 12, 2012

Atlanta — More than 150 stakeholders from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee convened in Atlanta on Monday for the Southeast Summit: Forging a New Consensus on Immigrants and America. Leaders from the business, law enforcement and faith communities joined this unprecedented gathering in the Southeast to discuss the importance of immigrants and immigration to the region’s economic and cultural vitality and realistic and workable solutions at the federal level.

The Summit took place as the Supreme Court prepares to issue its decision on Arizona’s immigration law, S.B. 1070, which will direct impact Arizona-inspired legislation in Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia.

The statements below can be attributed to the following speakers at the Southeast Summit:

Former U.S. Attorney General and Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law Alberto Gonzales:
“The Supreme Court will soon decide the fate of Arizona’s immigration law and other similar state-based immigration laws. The Department of Justice is challenging Arizona’s law, arguing that it is intruding on the federal government’s exclusive authority to make and enforce immigration laws. But with authority comes also responsibility, and our national leaders have failed us. It’s time for our federal officials to step up, show leadership and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

Dr. Richard Land, President, Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission:
“The immigration crisis is the consequence of many factors, including government’s failure to act for more than two decades in a responsible way. If the immigration crisis is going to be resolved fairly and equitably, it is going to require cooperation and effort at every level of government and civic society.”

Larry Wooten, President, North Carolina Farm Bureau:
“Agriculture is a very labor-intensive industry. Farmers across the nation want — and need — an adequate, legal work force. Our immigration system is broken; it can only be fixed at the federal level. We urge Congress to immediately address this issue that is so important for jobs and for our business community.”

Larry A. Godwin, Deputy Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security:
“As law enforcement officers, we are responsible for public safety. In order to reduce crime, there must be open communication with the public. Partnerships with the immigrant community are vital in order to obtain information, build trust, and ensure that justice is served in a fair and prudent manner. “

Ralph Schulz, President and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce:
“From an economic development perspective, the Chamber encourages government leaders to assess and understand the fiscal reality and business implications of implementing immigration policy changes on the local and state levels. We recognize our immigrant population makes a positive contribution to the economy and is an asset to our state’s global identity as welcoming and inclusive.”

Republican Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff:
“I commend the National Immigration Forum for hosting this conference and bringing together diverse communities of business, faith and law enforcement to discuss concerns and to share best practices. I call on Congress to step up to the plate, do the right thing and fix our broken immigration system with comprehensive, just and pragmatic reform. I also ask my fellow Republicans nationwide to follow Utah’s example and work across party lines in a uniquely American way to find practical solutions to ensure fair treatment under the law for all.”

Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Archbishop of Miami, Fla.:
“It is vital that we continue the dialogue on immigration if we want to solve the problem. The current system is untenable and violates basic God-given rights granted to all human beings.”

Republican Mayor Paul Bridges, Uvalda, Ga.:
“I am the mayor of a Georgia town directly impacted by state-based immigration legislation. We have to find out how to move immigration back to the federal level, where it belongs. Today’s solutions-oriented Summit is not a gathering of an isolated group; we have a true consensus in the U.S. on immigration.”

Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“Thoughtful, practical leaders from across the Southeast gathered today to forge a new consensus on immigrants and America. Congress must heed the call of faith, law enforcement and business leaders across the nation who seek a federal immigration system that serves the needs of every American family. The status quo is undermining our prosperity and competitiveness.”

An interview with Julie Hotchkiss, research economist and policy adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, about her data on the impact of undocumented workers in Georgia is available at:

Videos from today’s Southeast Summit will be available Thursday at the Forging a New Consensus website: You can also follow the conversation on Twitter at #SEsummit.

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