Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. government is working with immigrants and the descendants of immigrants in the United States to extend the benefits of economic, religious and political freedom to their countries of origin.
“Many of the reasons many of you are here is because you did not want to stay where you were from, or your parents didn’t, or your grandparents didn’t, which was my case. They left seeking better economic opportunity, a better future. Some come seeking religious freedom, freedom of conscience, a chance to stretch your own ambition,” Clinton said in a speech to the Second Annual Global Diaspora Forum in Washington July 25. Diaspora representatives from around the world attended the forum.
“It is part of America’s ongoing mission to try to help more people everywhere to have that same chance,” she added.
Clinton said the U.S. and Canadian governments are partnering with the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance because the two governments share a common purpose rooted in the large immigrant populations in their countries.
Working with diaspora communities will “reverse the so-called brain drain that slows progress in so many countries … and instead offer the benefits of a brain gain,” the secretary said. “We can move forward by giving back, by tapping into the experiences, the energy, the expertise of diaspora communities.”
Clinton said the United States also stands to benefit from the diaspora partnership. It is “a recipe for spurring greater economic growth in the United States as well, and it holds the promise of advancing strategic interests, like rebuilding societies after conflicts or disasters, and improving relations with key countries,” she said.
Clinton said a diaspora volunteer corps that will deploy highly skilled professionals on short- and medium-term development assignments to countries of origin is being organized, as is a mentoring and networking Web platform specifically for diaspora members trying to give back to their countries of origin.
The secretary said economic development and political reform are linked and the United States supports both. She added that democracy means more than elections.
“Democracy is changing the way people relate to one another, work with one another, listen to one another,” she said. “There’s no place that has more experience, since we are now the longest-lasting democracy, than we do, and there are no people with more credibility than all of you,” she said to the diaspora representatives.