Many CRI members have long engaged in ministry work to support immigrant communities by providing access to education, housing, spiritual direction, and legal aid to those in need. In our role as investors, we are well positioned to encourage the business community, and specifically corporations in our investment portfolios, to advocate for just immigration policies and to speak out in the face of actions that undermine respect for the human dignity of all people, including immigrant and refugee communities.
We are urging companies we engage to assess the risks to immigrants and refugees within the workforce and supply chains, take steps to protect and support the advancement of those individuals, and to prevent discrimination in hiring, among other issues. Immigration has emerged as a priority engagement issue for the CRI and the broader ICCR community due to the uncertainty and hostility immigrants face in the current U.S. political environment. In January 2017, we joined other investors in sending a letter to the representatives of President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum to use that forum to speak out strongly against the President’s Executive Order restricting entry into the U.S. for refugees, immigrants, and documented residents from selected counties and further urged them to take steps to respect the rights of workers and align corporate policies and practices with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Recognizing the important contributions immigrant communities make to our economy, culture, and society, we are working in collaboration with investors within ICCR to further integrate this priority into our shareholder engagement. Comprehensive immigration reform is an issue that touches nearly every corporation either through its workforce or customer base, therefore we would like to see all companies take action. We will also identify priority sectors for engagement that may be particularly exposed to risks related to immigration policy, for example those industries that have significant numbers of migrant workers, such as agriculture. In addition, investor engagement with the private prison companies that operate immigration detention centers will encourage respect for human rights in their operations.
Some companies, particularly in the information technology sector, demonstrated leadership by releasing statements in opposition to harsh public policy that will harm immigrant and refugee communities, including against the Trump Administration’s Executive Order. Examples of these statements can be found here. Many of these statements include a recognition of immigrants’ significant contributions to the company and a commitment to identify and assist employees impacted by the executive order. As we introduce the immigration policy issue in our ongoing dialogues, investors will encourage companies to be just as vocal, if not more, in publicly opposing such policies due to the strong influence the business community has on the present administration.
This work has taken on a renewed significance recently, but is rooted in our history of commitment to justice and human rights. In 2013, our Coalition joined a large group of investors in calling for comprehensive immigration reform (see letter here).