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National Immigration Forum: Leading the Way Conference

Policy Analyst

The National Immigration Forum held its annual conference, “Leading the Way: A New Approach to American Immigration,” on Thursday October 5th. The conference is part of an initiative called Bibles, Badges, and Business, a coalition of faith leaders, law enforcement, and business leaders who seek bipartisan immigration reform. Imaad Khan traveled to D.C. to represent Texas Impact at the conference, as well as on several congressional visits on Wednesday. Speakers included Senator Thom Tillis, former Mexican ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan, as well as Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

The Leading the Way conference comprised four panels: border security, immigrants and the economy, refugees, and activism in anxious times. Former Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said that the border wall is a “1st century solution to 21st century challenges,” and that it has poisoned the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. There was also a focus on the misconception about the prevalence of illegal immigration. Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations noted that illegal entry at the border is down 75-90 percent.

President and Chief Operating Officer of Chobani, Tim Brown, and the CEO of Western Growers, were just some of the business leaders who talked about the importance of immigrants to businesses and the economy. Religious leaders, mainly from the Evangelical Immigration Table, spoke about how their faith influences their drive for comprehensive and permanent immigration reform.

People from across the country convened in Washington on Thursday, many of whom came a day earlier to lobby members of congress for immigration reform, particularly a permanent solution for DREAMers. The conference coincided with the final day those DACA recipients whose federal protection from removal proceedings expire before March 5, 2018 could apply for renewal.