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 9 de Diciembre.”
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:
Washington politicians may be winding down for the year, but the immigration movement is still going full steam ahead. Around the country people are continuing to press for immigration reform, and more and more people are bringing the age-old tactics of fasting and sacrifice to the forefront. This very personal activism, coupled with the extraordinary, bipartisan political movement that has built up around immigration reform, is going to make it even more difficult for the House of Representatives to avoid dealing with immigration reform in 2014. Over the last few weeks, every time House leadership has signaled that it wasn’t in a hurry to do immigration reform, they have been forced to recant, largely because of the pushback from this broad and growing network. These are good signs that immigration reform and the people who support it will be a force to be reckoned with in the New Year.
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners:
On December 3, the four core fasters, who had fasted for 22 days in the shadow of the Capitol Building, broke their #fast4families in a power-packed ceremony inside the community tent on the National Mall. I was one of them. I could barely walk without support after 22 days of fasting. Half of that time I consumed only water, the other half I drank clear vegetable broth and fruit juice once a day to function at work. Supported by national faith leaders, labor leaders, and advocates, the four core fasters who were transitioning off the fast walked out and took our seats among 13 congressional members, more than 100 people who had fasted with us in solidarity over the first three weeks of the fast, and a sea of press cameras. There, in the tent, we passed our fasts to eight new core fasters. Some of those core fasters have been in the tent while others have taken the fast with them out across the nation as they continue to work toward a more just immigration system. Jim Wallis was among the new core fasters who knelt down to receive the faster’s cross from Eliseo Medina as Medina “passed his fast” during the ceremony. Since that powerful day more and more faith leaders have taken up the fast inside and outside of the fasting tent. As the congressional calendar winds to a close it has become clear: The single person who possesses the power to put reform to a vote on the House floor is Speaker Boehner. It is time to Act. Fast. And Pray.
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The holiday season is a time to surround ourselves with family and loved ones. For Lutherans, the Christmas celebration includes the story of the Holy Family and the lack of welcome they received, forcing them to shelter in a stable on the night Mary delivered Jesus. I was struck this week by the news that a member of Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) staff, Erika Andiola, made the difficult decision to leave her job to dedicate her full-time efforts to stop her mother’s deportation. Our nation needs an immigration system that unites families instead of dividing them. This truth seems even more stark during this holiday season. My prayers will be with all migrant and refugee families, like Erika’s, who are celebrating the holidays this year in isolation or separation from their loved ones.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service:
December is here and the crusade for immigration reform continues unabated. I know that many of us expected immigration reform to be signed, sealed and delivered in the Spring or the Summer. But as Fall prepares to give way to Winter, and the House of Representatives has not yet taken a vote on immigration reform, the passion behind the push for reform remains a certainty. This amazing and inspiring energy for reform should not be a surprise to anyone. The need for greater justice for migrants and refugees is what motivates the fasters on the National Mall and their legions of supporters to forego food. That’s why news of Speaker Boehner hiring a dedicated immigration expert to join his staff was greeted with such welcome this week. And it’s why all of us who stand alongside migrants and refugees in their quest for dignity and welcome, including LIRS, will continue to champion efforts for compassionate and just immigration reform until we are successful.
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.