Responding to the introduction of immigration reform legislation in the U.S. Senate, a broad and diverse group of more than 70 institutional investors including the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) joined together to call on Congress to take immediate action and pass commonsense immigration reform. The coalition represents $890.5 billion in assets under management on behalf of major pension funds, nonprofit organizations, faith-based investors, and socially responsible investors.
In a public letter, the group stated, “We believe comprehensive reform must be developed and implemented consistent with the human rights of all concerned, must value the integrity of families and must prevent immigrant workers—be they temporary or permanent—from being subjected to second-class employment standards.”
Regardless of our faith, I believe we all share a moral responsibility to stop the suffering caused by the current immigration policy, especially to families. As members of the investment community, we know the path to economic prosperity lies ultimately with the humane treatment of our workers.
The letter outlines the economic rationale, citing a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office which concluded that immigration reform could add as much as 1.3 percent to GDP by 2016. The coalition also notes that reform is imperative to ensuring a competitive U.S. labor force and a more prosperous economy for all Americans.
My colleague Susan Smith Makos, vice president of social responsibility for Mercy Investment Services, says of the letter, “As investors, we have a responsibility to advocate for those without a voice. Comprehensive immigration reform is a necessary step to improve conditions for those immigrants living and working in our country. Our hope is that leaders in U.S. Congress will realize the significant, positive impact that immigration reform can have not only on businesses but also on our country.”
Organizing investors to speak out for comprehensive immigration reform is a part of the UUA’s efforts to express our values through the management of our investments. As an active shareholder, the UUA uses its ownership rights to file resolutions on a range of issues including LGBTQ nondiscrimination, political spending, human rights, and sustainability. But to be effective, we must act in concert with other investors. Therefore the UUA is an active member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Ceres, SIF: the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, and the Investor Network on Climate Risk.
Together with these investors, we recognize that consideration of justice is as important to investing as risk and return.