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 of the American Immigration Council
One of the really heartening aspects of the immigration reform movement right now is the explosion of interest and activity on immigration reform outside the traditional immigration circles. A great example of this is the rise of a growing coalition of women’s groups who are taking on the cause of immigration reform. In fact, they have labeled this month March for Immigrant Women with rallies and presentations and other activities organized around the intersection between issues important to women and families and the need for immigration reform. It is this kind of cross-disciplinary organizing and discussion that makes me optimistic about the chances of immigration reform this week. The more people see that immigration reform affects issues they care about it, or the more they see that their worldview really requires them to support immigration reform, the more likely it is that we will have the people and voices we need to push Congress to act. While people may recognize that there are women’s issues in immigration (such as the special protections for victims of domestic violence and trafficking contained in the Violence Against Women Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act), it takes a little longer for some to see that immigration itself is a woman’s issue. How we frame the requirements for legalization, how we structure our future immigration admissions, whether we acknowledge the vast contributions of women immigrants in occupations as diverse as corporate CEO or domestic worker in planning out what kind of employment-based immigration the country should have, how we structure our laws to keep families together—all of those questions are part of the debate right now and something that women have a huge stake in trying to define. So, in honor of International Woman’s Day, I’m upbeat about immigration reform today because women are involved in it!
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
On March 7, President Obama signed into law the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The reauthorization of these important laws are proof that Congress can still make meaningful change happen. I stand with domestic abuse and human trafficking survivors, including unaccompanied immigrant children and immigrant survivors of violence, in thanking Congress and the White House for reauthorizing these laws. I’m optimistic that in a few months the president and congressional leaders will again take action together to enact comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens our country and upholds our obligation to welcome migrants and refugees.
Timothy King, Chief Communications Officer, Sojourners
Just how strong is the momentum for immigration reform that includes a roadmap to citizenship? One indication is the conversion of leaders who had previously opposed the idea. Most recently, former Florida governor Jeb Bush had a conversion experience shortly after the release of his book, Immigration Wars, that forcefully argued against a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Bush reversed his position, stating: “Thankfully now, there’s a consensus brewing amongst Democrats and Republicans, that there needs to be a consensus. We wrote the book last year, not this year.” Like Gov. Bush, many elected officials and people of faith across the country are having a change of heart and embracing the need to create a 21st Century immigration systems that reflects our nation’s values of fairness and compassion. It is amazing how much can change in a year.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
There was much to celebrate last week in Washington, D.C. The president signed into law reauthorizations of the Violence Against Women Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. He was joined onstage at the emotionally charged bill signing by lawmakers from both parties and individuals who represented the populations most impacted by the laws. It was powerful to see the good that bipartisanship and perseverance can accomplish. Bipartisan meals were big in town this week as the president shared lunch with his opponent from the campaign trail, Rep. Paul Ryan, and treated a gaggle of Republican senators to dinner. This apparent thaw in the glacial relations between the two parties will hopefully warm the possibilities of Congress passing an immigration reform bill this year. Even comments from former Florida governor Jeb Bush that seemed to threaten the idea of full citizenship for undocumented immigrants through immigration reform couldn’t upset the momentum towards a solution for our national immigration dysfunction. These comments were quickly rebuffed by the Gang of Eight Senators negotiating an immigration reform bill now, and even Jeb Bush walked away from them eventually.
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 an interview 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!