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.
For this post in Spanish, please click here.
Given the most recent developments, are we getting any closer to immigration reform? Here’s what the panelists have to say:
Ivone Guillen, Immigration Campaigns and Communications Associate, Sojourners
While some recent stories have claimed that immigration reform will be crowded out by Congress’ packed agenda with Syria and budget issues, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee hinted otherwise. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) recently stated: “My best estimate is that we will be ready to take up immigration bills very soon. It may be October… And we have members of the House working on other bills related to the children brought here [without authorization] by their parents, related to a legal status for people who are not lawfully here today, a larger group, related to reform of our refugee and asylum programs and related other guest-worker programs in other categories that are not covered by the Agriculture Guest Worker Bill, say construction or seasonal workers and so on. So each of these bills are not without controversy, but it is also important that we look at them and figure out the best way to fix what is clearly a broken immigration system today. It’s broken in terms of enforcement. It’s broken in terms of the loss opportunity to use good legal immigration programs to grow our economy and create jobs for Americans. And it broken in the sense that it’s not good to have 11 million people in the status that they’re in…” The House of Representatives have a lot of issues to tackle, but immigration can’t be lost in the shuffle. There’s just too much at stake. It is our job as leaders in the faith community to keep up the pressure and help Congress see the urgent need for action.
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Leaders leaders from a range of faith traditions continue to call for action on immigration reform. The words of Sister Simone Campbell illustrate the motivation behind Fast Action for Immigration Reform, a movement that involves more than 4,100 participants fasting, praying, and working for immigration reform, “We, as people of faith, are coming together. Our prayer can lead us to action, and our actions can lead to change. Let Capitol Hill hear from us. Change the law now.” With Members of Congress, fasters, and activists intent on seeing Congressional action around immigration reform, there is ample reason to hope that reform can come soon.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
On September 9th Members of Congress returned to session to face multiple urgent and unresolved issues. In addition to reforming our immigration laws, unfinished Congressional work includes debating military intervention in Syria, funding the federal government after the budget expires on September 30, and resolving fiscal questions around the debt ceiling. Understandably, both legislators and the American people are frustrated with the lack of progress on serious national issues by Congress. A visible manifestation of this frustration was seen on September 12 when over 100 women seeking an immigration system that keeps families together blocked traffic on Capitol Hill and were arrested. Republican and Democratic lawmakers continue to urge leadership to bring immigration reform legislation to a vote in the House of Representatives. As the pressure continues to build, our hopes for the passage of fair reform are high.
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!