Anna Crosslin, president and CEO at the International Institute of St. Louis, will speak Tuesday at Lewis and Clark Community College during a panel discussion on immigration as a form of economic development.
A panel of local experts will examine Tuesday how increasing the area’s immigrant population can raise wages, lower unemployment, increase new business starts and boost real estate values.
From 9 to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning at Lewis and Clark Community College, the River Bend Growth Association and the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois will host an immigration discussion in the faculty dining room at Reid Hall.
“The bi-state St. Louis region is a great place to live, work and build a business,” a press release issued by the RBGA states. “But our region has not grown as fast as other similar communities, with one of the reasons being that unlike other places, not as many new Americans have moved here.”
Leading the conversation will be Betsy Cohen, executive director of the St. Louis Mosaic Project, Anna Peterson Crosslin, President and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis; and Jim Pennekamp, assistant to the chancellor for regional economic development and executive director of University Park Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Immigration as a tool to help build the local economy fits into the broader topic of immigration reform at a national level. Government officials have clashed in recent years as more immigrants enter the country, legally and illegally.
Just last week, the departments of Homeland Security and Commerce announced the Obama administration will allow spouses of high-skilled immigrants to work in the United States.
The Obama administration’s rule change, published last week in the Federal Register, would affect spouses of as many as 100,000 holders of H-1B high-skilled visas.
Proposals like this encourage highly skilled, specially trained individuals to remain in the United States and continue to support U.S. businesses and economic growth.
However, this new rule is the latest in a series of actions Obama has announced as efforts have failed to win broad immigration reform in Congress.
Most opponents say they believe many of the president’s other proposed measures on comprehensive immigration reform grant amnesty for people who have broken the law, and that amnesty will only encourage more illegal immigrants to enter the country.
Vice President Joe Biden even recently marked Cinco de Mayo, traditionally a celebration of Mexican culture, with an impassioned call for immigration overhaul.
“I would agree with the definition of Teddy Roosevelt, who said, ‘Americanism is not a question of birthplace or creed, or line of descent, it’s a question of principles, idealism and character,’” Biden told a crowd of about 100 people gathered at his home at the Naval Observatory May 5. “These 11 million folks who are here, breaking their neck, working hard, they are Americans.”
So, as the issue of immigration reform heats up in Washington, those who live in the Greater Alton region will have a chance to voice their concerns about the issue at more personal level — discussing an influx of immigration in our area as a tool to grow the economy in which we live and do business.