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:
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
In just one of many hard-to-foresee developments in the reform debate, conservative Congressman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) last week publicly embraced a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and the Senate appears ready to open debate on their comprehensive reform bill, S.744, as early as this week. The prospects of reform continue to shift and the players are making it an interesting process. As the full Senate takes up the issue this week, I expect more changes and reconfigurations. But I also sense the pieces will inevitably fall into place and we will have immigration reform soon.
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
We have reached a major juncture in the push for common sense immigration reform. The full Senate is set to debate a bipartisan bill that was passed through the Judiciary Committee by a clear majority. The last time we reached a moment like this was in 2007, but then the immigration bill collapsed on the Senate floor. Given the Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan support, I believe a better outcome is possible in 2013. Still, this progress could be stymied. As we gear up for the Senate debate, here are my greatest concerns: The Senate should not pass amendments that lengthen the path toward earned citizenship or further dismantle the family-based immigration system. Rather, the Senate should reconsider the financial penalties currently levied on undocumented individuals and families. In many cases, the financial bar would be too high for families seeking citizenship. Evangelicals across the country have been vocal in their support of legislation that welcomes the stranger, protects the family, upholds the rule of law, and provides opportunity for aspiring Americans. I believe we will be able to look back in 50 years and tell our grandchildren and great-grandchildren that we raised our voices on the right side of history in America’s fight for just immigration reform. The question remains: Will we be able to say in 50 years, “Congress listened”?
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Last week felt like looking through a kaleidoscope when predicting the outcome of immigration reform efforts in Congress. Each day the kaleidoscope shifted a bit and the outlooks appeared differently. In the House of Representatives we learned that Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) walked away from bipartisan negotiations to reform the immigration system. Also, the House passed a funding bill that would prohibit allowing DREAM Act-eligible youth to live without fear of deportation, and would bar the exercise of discretion to protect immigrant victims trafficking and other crimes. However, if you twisted the immigration kaleidoscope slightly, you could see plenty of positive news for reform.
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!