Immigration reform: Will we see it in 2013? That’s the burning question on everyone’s mind this year.
A complicated debate and legislative process lie ahead. Here to decipher the headlines for you every Monday is THE UPDATE, a weekly blog series whose panel of experts will analyze how recent events affect the prospects for real reform. The panelists will offer an insider’s view of what’s happening right now on Capitol Hill, bolstered by their decades of experience with immigration reform and the legislative process.
This week’s edition appears in both English and Spanish.
Given the most recent developments, are we getting any closer to immigration reform? Here’s what the panelists have to say:
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
Promising signs are surfacing that our message on immigration reform is breaking through with members of the House. After a big push by immigration reform advocates, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) announced their support of an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. In “The 5 Rules of Recess,” Rev. Beau Underwood, the Director of Campaigns and Advocacy at Sojourners, explained that Members of Congress depend on town hall meetings to get a real sense of what their constituents want. There is no better place than a town hall to let your voice be heard. He also noted that while our case is compelling on economic grounds, it also stands strong on moral grounds. This echoes the message of Jim Wallis, Sojourners’ president, who wrote in a recent LA Times op-ed: “Politicians who are professing Christians need to consider what their faith has to say about immigration. If they oppose reform and refuse to offer compassion to our immigrant brothers and sisters, they should justify their positions on moral grounds.” Now is the time to call on our legislators to exercise the brave moral leadership we need to make immigration reform a reality.
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Last Monday, Members of Congress embarked on a five-week August recess without making further headway on fixing our broken immigration system since the Senate passed its bipartisan immigration reform bill (S.744) in June. When Congress returns from recess, there will be only twenty-three (23) days left in House session. This makes August, when members are at home and listening to their constituents, the critical month for Lutherans to raise their voices and let their representatives know that we need a vote on immigration reform in the House. The fate of comprehensive, fair immigration legislation still hangs in the balance.
Folabi Olagbaju, National Grassroots Director, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Since last week, the focus of LIRS grassroots mobilization has been making the best use of this critical August recess period to engage Lutherans in their congregations to put maximum pressure on their representatives in key states. LIRS has developed a series of resources including an August Recess Toolkit and Immigration Reform Mythbuster to engage and empower Lutherans as they amplify their voices at this pivotal moment in our nation’s history. We are encouraging Lutherans to make their voices on immigration reform heard at the various town hall meetings, request meetings with their House members, organize prayer vigils and Stand for Welcome Sundays, write op-eds and letters to the editor, and display lawn signs showing their support for a compassionate immigration reform. We have also organized a phone bank to call all Lutheran churches in the priority states of Texas and South Carolina to draw their attention to these resources and encourage their advocacy. In addition, we’re working with a broad coalition of interfaith groups to organize a 40 Days Fast Action for Immigration Reform from September 9 to October 18 for which people can sign up. All these activities and the engagement of Lutherans around the country give me confidence that we will see the passage of compassionate and humane immigration reform legislation in this Congress.
THE UPDATE will appear every Monday until the dust settles on the legislative battle over comprehensive immigration reform. If you wish to raise your voice for fair reform, please visit our Action Center. You can also learn more about the issues by reading two interviews with someone personally impacted by America’s broken immigration system, Jessica Colotl. Also, don’t forget that you can subscribe to this blog by adding your email address to the box at the top left of this page!