WASHINGTON, D.C. — Days ahead of the second GOP primary debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, conservative leaders are calling for a constructive conversation on immigration.
On Sunday morning, the National Immigration Forum Action Fund launched a national ad campaign.
Conservative leaders from across political, business and faith communities have already voiced support for the message of the ad — that #AmericaIsBetter when we lead with freedom, not fear.
The TV advertisement juxtaposes President Reagan’s vision of America as a “shining city upon a hill” with Donald Trump’s endorsement of mass deportation and wall-building, as well as Gov. Scott Walker’s and Sen. Ted Cruz’s calls to repeal the 14th Amendment.
“If there was ever a place for a constructive immigration debate among conservatives, it is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum Action Fund. “Reagan’s vision of an America that welcomes, ‘all who had the will and the heart to get here’ sets the bar for any candidate aiming to serve as President of the United States.”
The following are quotes from conservative leaders who speak on the urgent need to shift the tenor of the immigration discussion:
Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director, American Principles in Action’s Latino Partnership:
“President Reagan believed that immigration strengthened America and made it more prosperous. He understood that immigrants generate economic activity, expand our consumer base and help create good and better paying jobs for working Americans. I’m deeply concerned that a few candidates in the GOP field have chosen instead to embrace an extremely negative —often offensive — narrative about immigration, one based on fear and weakness. I urge my fellow conservatives to reject the voices of anger and pessimism and support those candidates who like the Gipper believe that America should remain the shining city on a hill.”
Linda Chavez, Conservative Columnist:
“Republicans should be welcoming immigrants who share their values, aspirations and a desire to build a better life. The future of the GOP rests on expanding its base not turning away newcomers.”
Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Florida’s 26th District:
“America is better — much better than what the disingenuous demagogues of today would have us believe. The time has come to honor Ronald Reagan’s legacy and start forging a constructive way forward on immigration. This country has been built and renewed by immigrants over the last 240 years. Let’s work together to set the foundation for the next 240 years.”
Charles H. Kuck, Kuck Immigration Partners, LLC, Atlanta:
“The key to the future economic, societal, and cultural success of the United States is a coherent, well planned and broad immigration reform plan. This plan will recognize the vital contributions of Immigrants from all countries who bring their zeal and drive for success and economic and familial wellbeing to our immigrant nation.”
Stan Marek, CEO, Marek Construction, Houston:
“Never has there been a bigger need for a sensible immigration solution. With all that’s going on all over the world with migration issues, the United States could take the first step towards dealing with the undocumented population already within our borders. Partisan politics has been the poison that has kept our parties divided on this issue. It’s time to put aside politics and do what’s right for those whose only crime has been seeking a better life for their families.”
Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform:
“The time has come to have a national discussion of how best to reform our nation’s immigration law to strengthen our economy and ensure a prosperous and great American future.”
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Leadership Conference (NHCLC):
“Words matter. With our words we can speak life or death. The recent rhetoric engaged by certain presidential hopefuls as it pertains to immigration can best be described as anti-Christian, anti-conservative and anti-American. It behooves those of us that still believe in Ronald Reagan’s vision of an America that shines like a ‘city on a hill’ to raise our voices and issue a clarion call. Corresponding call will empower the ideological children of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ronald Reagan to build a firewall against rhetorical nativism and xenophobia, so help us God.”
Rev. Derrick Smith, former pastor of Kaleidoscope Multi-Ethnic Fellowship, Spartanburg, S.C.:
“The rhetoric of this campaign so far makes me sick to my stomach. As a conservative Christian pastor and educator, I care more about people than politics. But these candidates — and the entire nation — have an opportunity to start an actual conversation about what freedom means in this country. Fear is not what America needs. America needs faith. America needs hope. America needs love. Let’s change the conversation.”
Larry Wooten, President, North Carolina Farm Bureau:
“Poll after poll has shown that Americans overwhelmingly want and support immigration reform. What we need are our rational, pragmatic statesmen and stateswomen to work in earnest to address border security, a workable guest worker program and a realistic solution for the undocumented immigrants. What we don’t need is more demagoguery and political rhetoric concerning this critical national issue.”