I recently attended a foreign policy lunch event sponsored by the U.S. Global leadership Coalition (USGLC) on February 21st at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami. The USGLC is a “broad-based influential network of 500 businesses and NGO’s, national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic, military and community leaders in all 50 states who support strategic investments to elevate development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world. The USGLC works to educate and inspire support from the American public and policymakers on the importance of America’s civilian-led tools of development and diplomacy.” They advocate for a strong and effective International Affairs Budget, which currently is only 1% of the federal budget.
The panel discussion included Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, General Richard Hawley, and Eric Reading of Chemonics. The topic was “What’s at Stake for Florida?” One of the handouts for the program outlines the benefits to Florida of the International Affairs Budget. They pointed out the job creation benefit of foreign trade which supported over 2.5 million jobs in 2013, which amounted to 23% of the total jobs in Florida. That year, 61,489 companies exported goods from Florida and 95% of the total Florida exporters were small and medium-sized companies with fewer than 500 employees.
Diaz-Balart spoke about how helping foreign economies prosper encourages peace and stability as well new customers for American goods. He said, “It is not foreign aid, it is national security spending.” The packed room was a testament to the support of U.S. Global engagement in Florida.
I was first invited to attend USGLC events a number of years ago as a member/volunteer with the Miami Council for International Visitors (now Global Ties Miami), which hosts foreign visitors who have been identified by the U.S. State department as “emerging leaders” in their countries. I have hosted visitors from several S.E. Asian countries, as well as China. This organization provides professional and cultural exchange and fosters global friendships and goodwill between international visitors and people in South Florida. One of my visitors from China worked in the immigration department for the Chinese government, which is why I was asked to host this group of visitors.
Additionally, an article about my recent presentation on the refugee situation, "Refugees 101 with a Religious Perspective," was featured in the March issue of Chai Lights. Click here
to read the article, which begins on page 33.
If you have any questions about this topic, or anything else related to immigration and my practice, please do not hesitate to ask.