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.
Media representatives who wish to speak with one of the panelists, please click here. If you would like to read previous editions of THE UPDATE, please click here. You can read the Spanish version at “Reforma migratoria de 2013: ‘LA ACTUALIZACIÓN’ para el lunes 16 de Diciembre.”
Given the most recent developments, are we getting any closer to immigration reform? Here’s what the panelists have to say:
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners:
Last week, I and other fasters broke our #fast4families on the National Mall. Hundreds gathered in solidarity and support as each of us stood in front of the U.S. Capitol offering our testimony on the meaning of that sacred moment. If we learned nothing else over the 31 days of the Fast, it was that immigration reform is not simply an issue. It is not simply about politics. Immigration reform is about families. It is about our values. Immigration reform is about our highest ideals and our nation’s deepest legacies. Whether it was the President of the United States and the First Lady, or the Vice President, a cabinet member, or an everyday person who flew across the country to fast in solidarity, each person who entered the fasters’ tent feasted on the stories of the people. We were struck by the urgency of the moment and the reality that each day that passes means more suffering and fear in immigrant families across the country.
The fasting tent came down on December 13, but the spirit of the fast lives on. In the final moments of the celebration, Jim Wallis, who fasted for 10 days, and Rudy Lopez, who fasted for 22 days, commissioned every American to take the fast into their home districts over the holidays and into 2014. A national network of evangelical Korean pastors pledged to fast and call their congregations to fast in the coming weeks. Likewise, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he and Aldermen of the city of Chicago would do a 24-hour fast in solidarity with the #Fast4Families. While we have come to the end of 2013 without achieving comprehensive immigration reform, people of faith must take to heart what Jim Wallis recently stated: “Immigration Reform: It Ain’t Over Until God Says It’s Done.”
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
Last week, Capitol Hill was visited by two delegations of visitors who are seeking reforms to our immigration system. On December 9, the letters of 6,000 children whose family members have been deported or who face deportation were delivered to members of the House of Representatives. Two young twins shared their story of family separation– they traveled with their mother to visit their grandfather in Mexico only to have to return alone to the United States when their mother was denied reentry to the United States because she lacked proper immigration paperwork. Just two days later, 50 refugees and asylees representing all 50 states visited Congress as part of the Refugee Congress convened by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. These survivors of persecution and torture asked Congress to support the refugee and asylum systems and to support improvements that were included in the Senate’s immigration reform bill. Our nation deserves an immigration system that unites families and protects those who arrive seeking safety and a new life. Lawmakers must not disregard the messages the children and the refugee delegates delivered, as they represent a path to a more just and compassionate America.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service:
Today is the last day the House of Representatives is expected to be in session in 2013. When the representatives leave for the holiday break, they will leave on the shelf the dreams of millions who hoped immigration reform would be passed by Congress in 2013. The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June, but there are now zero hopes of the House doing the same this year. But the campaign for more compassionate and just immigration laws is not over. This week the world celebrated the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. One of his most beloved quotes is that “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” Those words offer promise and hope for those seeking immigration reform. In just a few days we will be ringing in the New Year. Reforming our unjust and inadequate immigration system may seem impossible in the waning days of 2013, but it may just be done in 2014.
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.