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October 16, 2019
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Illinois CEOs and Education Leaders Gather to Welcome New Immigration Bill

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Illinois CEOs and Education Leaders Gather to Welcome New Immigration Bill

Sign Letter Calling for Common Sense Immigration Reform that Ends Obstacles for Foreign-Born Students 

On Friday, leaders in business and education gathered to welcome the introduction of the new Senate immigration bill and to sign an open letter urging the IL Congressional delegation to chart a new path for Illinois by supporting common sense immigration reform, in front of a crowd of more than 70 at The Field Museum.

The event was organized by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition (IBIC), a new bipartisan statewide initiative bringing together Illinois business heavyweights from a diverse set of high-and low-skilled sectors of the Illinois business community. IBIC also includes within its Steering Committee some of the most respected names from the immigrant advocate community, a sign of both the political sophistication of the Illinois business community and the growing clout of immigrant communities in Illinois.

It was Co-Hosted by Chris Kennedy, Chairman, University of Illinois Board of Trustees and Chairman, Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises, Inc.; and John Rowe, University Regent and Chairman, Illinois Institute of Technology Board of Trustees and Chairman Emeritus, Exelon Corporation. Speakers included President John Anderson, Illinois Institute of Technology; President Donna Carroll, Dominican University; Chair, Chicago Archdiocese Office of Immigration Affairs;  Chancellor Cheryl Hyman, City Colleges of Chicago; and Vice President and General Counsel Jose Padilla, DePaul University.  Congressman Bill Foster (D- IL 11) was in attendance and gave brief updates on his hopes for the bill’s progress.

“It is incredibly frustrating, as a CEO, to have to look a motivated, talented young person in the eye and tell her that, as perfect as she is for my company, I cannot hire her simply because she was brought here as a child. It defies American values of hard work and fairness, and it is economically stupid,” said John Rowe.

Speakers called for call for broad common sense immigration reform legislation that will allow foreign-born students to leverage their talent and their ideas to help make Illinois competitive; and that will help rebuild the Illinois economy, provide Illinois companies with the high and low-skilled talent they need, and promote the integration of immigrants as workers, consumers, entrepreneurs and citizens.

“We have the opportunity to bring the great minds of great researchers to Illinois. It’s crazy to bring them here and then send them home…These are the ones who will reinvent our society over and over again, with new ideas that create new companies, which hire new employees, who pay taxes, which support schools, which educate a whole new generation ready to begin the cycle again,” said Chris Kennedy.

“Shame on us, given all the talent and resources in the United States, if we cannot come together and fix this mess --- because the economic argument is sound, but also, because it is the right thing to do,” said Donna Carroll.

"As the nation’s largest Catholic university we’re following Jesus’ challenge in Matthew 25 on how we should treat immigrants:  “I was a stranger and you made me welcome…Our choice is a simple one:  do we make the Dreamers’ education----and that of international students here on student visas---do we make their educations literally just an academic exercise for us?  Or instead, do we make them force multipliers in America’s economy and valued and devoted citizens of the country they've grown to love,” said Jose Padilla.

Foreign-born students make crucial contributions to honing the U.S. and Illinois’ competitive and innovative edge. According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, nationwide more than three out of every for patents produced by the top-10 patent-producing universities in 2011 had an immigrant inventor. Nearly 90% of patents from the University of Illinois have at least one immigrant inventor. Illinois’ 31,093 foreign students contributed $869.2 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees and living expenses for the 2009-2010 academic year according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Passing the DREAM Act, incentivizing undocumented students to pursue college and allowing them to work legally , will add 1.4 million jobs and generate $329 billion in economic activity over the next 20 years according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. Immigrants have created many of America’s greatest companies – 40 percent of Fortunate 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. 

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