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On Friday, December 18 Axios's Stef Kight hosted a conversation on immigration policy in the new administration, unpacking bipartisan initiatives and their wide-reaching impacts on immigrants and refugees, featuring former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and League of United Latin American Citizens CEO Sindy Benavides.

Sindy Benavides discussed the pandemic's unique impact on the Latino community and her view of immigration policy priorities going into the next presidential administration.

  • On the action she hopes President-elect Biden takes around immigration policy: "Reinstate DACA and make sure to rescind the [Department of Homeland Security] memo that stripped that protections away from immigrant eligible recipients, and make sure that we redesignate and expand temporary protected status."
  • On the lack of trust between the U.S. and the immigrant community: "The truth is that there is an erosion of trust that has occurred within the immigrant community under this administration. So many immigrants — many who are mixed-status families with U.S. citizen children and U.S. citizen spouses who have served in our military — are not accessing services because they're so fearful of repercussions from this government."

Michael Chertoff unpacked U.S. immigration policy in the past four years, drawing from his own experiences as Secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush.

  • On the legacy of the Trump administration on the American immigration system: "The inhumanity with respect to the separated children will probably leave a lasting scar...I think it's also created a sense of ill will and lack of trust between a lot of the general public and [the U.S. Customs and Border Protection] and ICE."
  • On his advice to the Biden administration: "It's very important for the incoming administration to reach out and have good relations with our neighbors...Maybe the most important medium to long-term objective is to reduce the pressure that is bringing people to run and put their lives at risk to flee up North."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with USAFacts Steve Ballmer and discussed the importance of H-1B visas to the technology industry.

  • "When I was running Microsoft, we depended fundamentally not just on native-born engineers, but on foreign-born engineers...[H-1B visas] are a really big deal for keeping our tech economy vibrant, unless people want to see more of those tech and engineering jobs in other countries."

Thank you USAFacts for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 27, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: Global data-driven change

On Thursday, January 27, Axios' Ina Fried hosted a conversation on the social impact of Big Data, featuring Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) and former U.S. chief technology officer and founder and CEO of shift7, Megan Smith.

Megan Smith. unpacked how data can help solve some of the biggest equity issues across our economy and society today, and the importance of having everyone at the table.

  • On solving social issues that are exacerbated by new technologies: "It's just not for the tech community to decide [how to fix this] on behalf of all of us, especially because they face extraordinary bias in their hiring practices and their teams' dismissiveness of people who are not of a certain group."
  • On how the government should approach solving problems that cross technological and policy divides: "The key there is less about what and more about who. Who is in the government teams, who is actually in the tech teams? Are they more balanced? How do we get more of society at the table together so that we're more fluent as we work on this?"

Rep. Yvette Clarke highlighted the risks and rewards of using Big Data, as well as the shared responsibility of the public and private sectors to keep the public informed.

  • On how algorithms can amplify existing biases: "[Big Data] can be great in making advances in our civil society. The other side is it can become a mirror of some of the inequities that exist in the real world...and that reflection can be programmed into algorithms."
  • On a balanced approach to technology regulation: "I really want to make sure that the public is educated and informed...[That] we also hold the companies accountable for the ways in which they perpetuate harm in certain respects and reward where they're doing good."

Axios' Chief People Officer Dominique Taylor hosted a View from the Top segment with Intel Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer Sandra Rivera to discuss collaboration and creating change from within the tech industry.

  • "We have convened other industry leaders to really drive meaningful, lasting change forward. This is such a big challenge and opportunity. It doesn't really work that any one company can do [it] alone: We take our role in terms of leading that work by participating, collaborating with other tech giants."

Thank you Intel for sponsoring this event.

Updated Jan 28, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: The future of financial inclusion

On Thursday, January 28, Axios' Dan Primack hosted a conversation on financial inclusion in the global economy, featuring Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Institute for Women's Policy Research CEO C. Nicole Mason.

Sen. Tina Smith discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, uneven access to technology, and the role of systemic racism in growing economic inequities.

  • On what she thinks will be the most effective way to move the needle on financial equity: "Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour...is one of the biggest things that we can do to address the wage inequality and savings potential for people of color in this country."
  • On Democrats' economic goals going into the new administration: "Addressing this kind of discrimination in financial services and creating more opportunities for people of color to get access to banking services, loans, access to capital is a big priority for us as [Democrats] move into the majority."

C. Nicole Mason discussed how job losses during the pandemic reflect existing gender and racial inequities, as well as the disproportionate burden of childcare on women.

  • On the scale of job losses for women: "Since the start of the pandemic, women have exited the workforce at four times the rate of men, so about 11 million women since the start of the pandemic have lost their jobs or exited the workforce."
  • On childcare as an equity issue: "With the pandemic, the burden [of childcare] doubled and tripled...We need a national childcare infrastructure where we keep up childcare as a public good and people can access it regardless of their income or ability."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Europe, Visa Charlotte Hogg, who discussed digital and financial inclusion as a component of economic equity during the pandemic.

  • "We have to think about inclusion as being digitally, financially included. [From] small businesses who are increasingly important in driving towards a more inclusive recovery and who need to be digitally enabled to participate in that, [to] consumers who for various reasons may be vulnerable."

Thank you Visa for sponsoring this event.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.