Immigration reform: Will we see it in 2013? That’s the burning question on everyone’s mind this year.
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A complicated debate and legislative process lie ahead. Here to decipher the headlines for you 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, THE UPDATE is proud to add an additional panelist: Bishop Julian Gordy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Immigration Ready Bench. Also, 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
Momentum continues to grow on immigration reform. The Senate Judiciary Committee hosted a strong hearing focusing on the benefits and necessity of a comprehensive package. More conservative leaders voiced support, while others acknowledged that the train had left the station. In other words, people are ready to start debating a bill and are preparing for the hard work ahead. Because so many people are new to the debate, the Immigration Policy Center has just issued a new overview of the background and key principles of reform. Now is the time to get ready as no matter how much people want reform it won’t happen unless we are prepared to engage in a thoughtful conversation with each other as a bill moves through the legislative process.
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
An improbable confluence of recent events has boosted my optimism that Congress will produce solid immigration reform legislation this year. A moment didn’t tick by this week without a significant immigration reform development. The morning after President Obama’s State of the Union speech, the Senate opened hearings on immigration reform complete with a prayer service for compassionate reform, while demonstrators protested the hundreds of thousands of deportations under Homeland Security Secretary. Janet Napolitano, and the hearing witnessed heartfelt testimony by Jose Antonio Vargas, a undocumented, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist with a powerful immigration success story.
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
A great “Hoorah!” rang out across the country when President Obama declared in his State of the Union Address that “right now, leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement, and faith communities all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform.” However, opposition is building in response to this enthusiasm. A troubling trend is the harsh rhetoric from groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, and Center for Immigration Studies. A recent op-ed in Politico highlighted the ulterior motives of these groups. A hearing in the House last week revealed the political obstacles in that chamber to creating a roadmap to citizenship for the millions of aspiring Americans. There are signs of hope, but we ignore the obstacles to reform at our peril. Above all we must remain on our knees in prayer.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
This week in DC, more than one acquaintance has mentioned to me that immigration reform appears to be the one issue that Congress will complete. The State of the Union address produced several moments that point to progress: President Obama devoted strong words to the need to get immigration reform done; loud and bipartisan applause greeted his words; several senators working on bipartisan reform principles sat together at the speech looking like a merry band; and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered the GOP response with points on immigration that closely aligned with the president’s address. Typically, I’m told how difficult immigration is and how it is highly polarizing. But after the activity this week, the consensus feels like immigration reform enjoys a uniquely bipartisan and doable position.
Next week, THE UPDATE will be back to its regular schedule of appearing on Monday mornings (this week’s edition was moved to accommodate President’s Day). 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!