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:
Mary Giovagnoli, Director, Immigration Policy Center
Last week, the Senate voted to proceed to debate on the immigration bill by an overwhelming 84 to 15 vote. This is an encouraging sign that there is significant support for the bill but no one should count their chickens just yet. As the week progressed it became clear that some Senators were still stuck in the same enforcement first mindset, attempting to delay legalization until the border is wrapped up tighter than a drum. Because of Senate rules, these Senators have been able to delay votes and slow down the pace of the bill. Keeping up the pressure and making it clear that people don’t support amendments that will make it harder for undocumented immigrants to legalize or families to stay together is critical. Supporters of immigration reform have every right to be excited about progress, but that excitement has to continue to be transmitted to our elected officials if we are going to pass a bill.
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The prospects for real reform took a turn for the better last week when the Senate voted to proceed with S.744, rolling past a handful of obstructionists. One common thread runs through all of the week’s conversations about comprehensive reform: Our byzantine immigration system has real, often devastating, effects on human beings. That fact must not be lost as the immigration debate rolls forward. As our elected officials continue to engage in the messy and cumbersome process of democracy, lawmakers must not forget the people – the migrants and refugees, their families, congregations, and communities who will be directly affected by changes in our immigration laws.
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
Last week was a banner week for immigration reform. The president threw his support behind the bipartisan Senate bill in a rousing speech, while the Senate overwhelmingly voted to begin debate on the legislation. Still, immigration reform is by no means a done deal. Opponents of reform are threatening to stop or slow the process by introducing amendments that undermine the bill or create obstacles to the pathway to citizenship. Interestingly, Fox News released a poll on Thursday showing that “74 percent of voters favor finding a way for the 11 million [undocumented] immigrants already in the country to remain—and eventually become citizens—if they meet certain requirements, such as paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check.” We must let our senators and House representatives know we expect them to do what is right and to listen to the will of the people. Click here to contact your senator today!
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Immigration reform last week continued to dominate the scene here in D.C. The White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives were all fully engaged on addressing the shortcomings of our current inadequate immigration system. President Obama powerfully summed up the reason for so much effort in his recent immigration speech: “We owe it to America to do better.” Across town, lawmakers in began to debate the immigration reform bill on the floor of the Senate. In the House, Representatives convened a hearing on an aggressive immigration enforcement bill that is reminiscent of detention and deportation approaches of years gone by. With so much engagement, things are looking good 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!