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 23 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:
Advent is a time of waiting, hope, and expectation. 2013 was a year of fasting and prayer for immigration reform. We sang and marched. We held vigils and held tightly to the truth that 11 million people—made in the image of God—are worthy of a dignity that our broken system does not currently afford. We come to the end of 2013 without comprehensive immigration reform. It is tempting to let that dark reality overcome us. But we are in the season of Advent. And as Jim Wallis reminded us recently: Advent is the beginning, never the end. Thus, in the spirit of Advent, we look forward to 2014 with anticipation of new birth and liberation. The early signs are promising. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the conservative Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee recently stated that immigration reform will be a “top priority” in 2014. And the groundwork for such prioritization has been laid by Speaker Boehner who appointed a new expert to focus on immigration reform in the new year. So, in this season of Advent, we must continue to pray, continue to fast, and continue to believe that the same God who crossed time and space to break into Mary’s dark world will bring light and liberation to ours.
Mary Giovagnoli, Director, Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Council:
We have come so far this year! The perseverance and devotion to changing our immigration system for the better has paid off in political victories, policy changes, and greater love and understanding across communities. There will be so much more to do in 2014 but we are moving forward as a strong and diverse family of Americans. I think our prospects for change in 2014 are significant and real. Blessings in the season and a happy New Year to all!
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service:
With 2013 winding down, there is a lot to reflect upon in the campaign for compassionate and just immigration reform. The urgency of the legislative efforts remains sky high, as underscored by the report last week that the Department of Homeland Security removed nearly 350,000 men, women and children from the United States in Fiscal Year 2013. This brings the number of migrants and refugees ordered to leave the country during President Obama’s tenure to nearly 2 million. There is much to be thankful for and energized by in the fight for a more just immigration system- the Senate passed a bill that would benefit millions of migrants and refugees, the immigration reform movement continued to build momentum despite a government shutdown and the slow pace of the House of Representatives, the American people continue to want immigration reform. As a New Year dawns, we are optimistic that 2014 will see just reform enacted and migrant and refugee families united and freed from the fear of deportation.
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas this week with its message of joy and tidings of peace, I am reminded that the familiar story of Mary and Joseph is also a story of a young family seeking shelter and a warm place for their son to be born. As I reflect on the efforts to enact a more fair and humane set of immigration laws this year. the Christmas story comes powerfully to mind. This is not just a political debate or an academic discussion. Our broken immigration system continues to separate migrant and refugee families who want nothing more than to be together this Christmas season. As I remember the Holy Family, I will continue to offer prayers and encourage lawmakers to reform our system so that today’s migrant families find shelter and welcome in America. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, may we also live out his call to welcome the stranger.
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.