By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday over 150 participants from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee met in Atlanta at the first ever Southeast Summit. According to the organizers, the summit was about, “Forging a New Consensus on Immigrants and America.” Following the conference, the National Immigration Forum released a written statement about the Atlanta event.
Keynote speaker, George W. Bush Administration U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, said, ““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.” AG Gonzales is now the Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law at Belmont University College of Law in Tennessee.
Dr. Richard Land, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said, “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.”
The Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security: Larry A. Godwin said, “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. “
The President of the North Carolina Farm Bureau Larry Wooten said, “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.”
The President and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce Ralph Schulz said, “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.”
Catholic Archbishop Thomas Wenski, of the Diocese of Miami, Fla. said, “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.”
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (R) said, “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.”
Mayor Paul Bridges (R) from Uvalda, Ga. Said, “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.”
The Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum Ali Noorani said, “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.”
The National Immigration Forum who helped organized the event was harshly critical of Alabama’s passage of HB56/HB658 and supports efforts to legalize most of the estimated eleven million undocumented immigrants who are living illegally in the United States.
For more information about the event go to their website: