Conference to discuss Chicago immigration issues

June 26, 2013 3:31:53 PM PDT
Starting Thursday, Chicago plays host to the largest gathering of Latino policymakers in the country.

The 30th annual NAELO Conference will include discussions on key issues ranging from immigration to healthcare reform to Chicago's role in supporting Latino businesses and interests.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Arturo Vargas sat down to talk with ABC7 News about NALEO's upcoming conference this weekend in Chicago.

"Our conference really is an opportunity for our members to come together from throughout the country, Republicans and Democrats, an opportunity to learn from each other," Vargas said.

"We have made Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city. We are on the doorstep of passing the most comprehensive immigration reform," Emanuel said.

"We at NALEO very much see Chicago as the vanguard of a city that is welcoming to immigrants, that is not just a city of immigrants but is trying to figure out how can immigrants help to build society and that's what we want to see done at the center of the Immigration Reform Bill," Vargas said.

"In the last year, Illinois led with the driver's license reforms, we were one of the first states on the Dream Act," said Emanuel. "It is in our self-interest to be a leader and to show the right path of pro-immigration policies vs. the wrong path."

Census figures show that by the year 2020 Hispanic purchasing power will be at $3 trillion and if anyone wants to be in business they will have to embrace the Hispanic community.

"Not only will we have great purchasing power, but we're the future work force, the future leadership," Vargas said. "We have to invest in our children today, so that we have great leadership tomorrow."

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