Grover Norquist Headlines Immigration Reform Event

On Friday, conservative activist Grover Norquist addressed more than 80 leaders from across the Midwest to discuss the need for common-sense immigration solutions (see ABC News/Univision coverage). Mr. Norquist was the keynote speaker at the Midwest Summit: Forging a New Consensus on Immigrants and America, the first immigration summit in the Midwest to convene faith, law enforcement and business leaders from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin. Video of the summit, including Norquist’s address, is now available at

Workable immigration policies are vital to the region’s future. The Midwest economy cannot prosper without a steady influx of new residents to offset the aging population and the net outmigration of the available workforce. That’s why some areas in the Midwest are looking at immigration as an opportunity to ease population loss, revive farms and business and stimulate economic growth.

At a time of heightened polarization of the immigration issue and in the midst of a major election, leaders from the Midwest are leading the way on finding a political middle ground on immigration.

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

Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform:
“Immigration is the most important thing to focus if you’re concerned about America as an economic power. Not only is it good policy to have dramatically more immigrants in the U.S. than we do today and a path for those who are here; it’s also good politics. In fact, restrictionist policies are bad electoral policies.”

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller:
“State governments are understandably frustrated with the failure of the federal government to perform its duty establishing immigration policy and enforcing existing immigration laws. Our hope is that a candid discussion of the impact on states and communities will help refocus attention on states’ needs in terms of public safety, education and commerce as leaders reform U.S. immigration policies, consistent with our constitutional principles.”

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“There is a massive shift on immigration that is occurring within the evangelical churches in America. We discovered that when pastors of our churches teach what the bible says, people’s attitudes change on immigration. If people read about what the Old Testament says on welcoming the stranger, people change their minds.”

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, State of Utah:
“In Utah, law enforcement officers do not want to become ICE agents because they feel that is not their responsibility. Police officers are already busy doing their jobs and do not want an extra burden.  As law enforcement officers, we believe that punitive immigration laws are actually harmful to public safety.”

Angela Smith Jones, Director of Public Policy, Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce:
“Immigrants create jobs, they boost American productivity and they help businesses stay competitive. In the Midwest, declining populations have reduced the number of available workers, creating a huge gap in the workforce. This is not even an immigrant issue. It’s an American issue. »

Jim Partington, Executive Director, Nebraska Restaurant Association:
“Immigrants are the backbone of America’s restaurants. A rational immigration policy is essential to our industry’s continued growth. Immigrants not only make up a large portion of the restaurant industry’s workforce, but they also make significant contributions as consumers in our nation’s restaurants and as entrepreneurs, incorporating ethnic and cultural influences as they start up restaurants of their own.”

Chief James Hawkins, Garden City Kansas:
“Our police department believes that everyone should be treated fairly and equitably regardless of their immigration status. We are committed to establish a positive relationship with our community or we will not be able to solve our community’s issues. To undo 30 years of gaining the trust of immigrant populations would be disastrous for our police department.”

Steve Tobocman, Director, Global Detroit:
“Immigrants create jobs. They don’t take jobs, and that’s particularly true in Michigan and in Detroit. Michigan is the only state that lost population in the last 10 years. A shrinking population means a poorer, weaker and less competitive Michigan. As we face a rapidly aging population, we really need the energy brought by immigrant workers. Immigration can be a successful strategy to reinvent the economy of the Midwest.”

Sheriff Mark C. Curran, Jr., Lake County, Illinois:
“If you want to keep the larger community safe, you need to have a relationship with the immigrant community so they have the trust and confidence to report crimes. We don’t need higher deportation levels; we need to fix the system as it exists.”

Carl Ruby, Vice President for Student Life, Cedarville University:
“Cedarville University is a very conservative university, but our student body recognizes that immigration is a spiritual issue and a civil rights issue. We hosted the first G92 immigration conference in Ohio. It was a student-led initiative to talk about the importance of showing compassion to immigrants, whether they are documented or not. We found that the young generation of students is more open to immigration reform and more likely to advocate on behalf of immigrants.”

Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum:
“The winds of the immigration debate are changing. From the Midwest to the Southeast to the Mountain West, people who wear badges, run businesses and carry bibles are building a new consensus on immigrants and America.”

Video from Friday’s Midwest Summit is available at the Forging a New Consensus You can also follow the conversation on Twitter at #MidwestSummit.

**Watch video of Grover Norquist’s keynote address at Norquist’s speech begins at the 25-minute mark.**

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