While the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, we cannot drop the ball on immigration reform.
Whew, a lot happened in 2013. The Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform in June and despite our advocacy efforts to influence Members of Congress on the urgent need for reform during the August recess and throughout the fall session, the process seemed to stall in the House of Representatives. We rallied in support of positive pieces of legislation introduced in the House, including the Refugee Protection Act of 2013, and against harmful bills like the SAFE Act. During a government shutdown that forced the rescheduling of immigration court hearings across the country and halted the refugee resettlement process, we were able to extend a critical lifeline for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters for U.S. troops abroad. We fasted for reform along with other faith leaders, activists, DREAMers and even some Members of Congress.
With the New Year beginning, it is critical to recognize that our work is not yet done. We made it halfway there in 2013 and now is the time to prepare for the final push in 2014.
Here are some of our New Year’s Resolutions:
- Take action to enact fair and compassionate immigration reform. As the House continues to contemplate a series of separate bills on immigration issues, we continue to advocate for the inclusion of each of our five principles for compassionate immigration reform.
- Take action to ensure robust funding for refugee programs. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is expecting an unprecedented increase in the number of unaccompanied migrant children arriving in the United States in the next several months. To ensure that these children and the arriving refugees who also fall under ORR’s mandate are warmly and fully welcomed, Congress must allocate sufficient funding to ORR’s budget.
- Take action to extend critical Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) programs for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters that are set to expire on December 31, 2013 and September 30, 2014 respectively. If these programs run out, thousands of vulnerable Iraqi and Afghan men and women who risked their lives to assist the United States will be left without a lifeline to seek safety in the United States.
2014 will mark our 75th year of walking alongside migrants and refugees to brighter futures. Thank you for all your work to stand for welcome with us for those who are beginning not only a new year in the United States, but also new lives.
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Image Credit: NobbiP