Immigration Reform 2014: THE UPDATE for Monday, January 13

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Immigration reform is seeing a rejuvenated push. The question is, will it become a reality in 2014?

Here to keep you up-to-date on the debate and legislative progress 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 2014: ‘LA ACTUALIZACIÓN’ para el lunes 13 de Enero.”

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:

The New Year has brought new hope in the fight for immigration reform. Recently, The New York Times reported that Speaker Boehner may embrace immigration reform early in 2014. The packed legislative calendar along with the looming election season make the first half of 2014 the ideal time for the House to take up the issue. Still, it is important for outside groups, especially voices from the faith community, to continue to let their elected officials know they want reform now. Elected officials respond when their constituents speak out. Let us take the Apostle Paul’s admonition to heart as we enter 2014: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service:

The New Year swept into DC with a flurry of optimism for immigration reform in 2014. This is a welcome sign following the stagnation of reform efforts in the House of Representatives since the Senate passed its comprehensive reform bill in June of 2013. Speaker Boehner wasted no time in addressing immigration, vowing on one of the first days of Congressional business in the New Year to release a set of conservative principles, described as a way for the House Leadership to spark action on immigration in the House. Politicians are not the only ones talking about immigration reform as a top issue in 2014. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced it has committed to “pull out all the stops” to see that immigration reform is enacted in 2014. Here at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, we look forward to dedicating the New Year to working alongside members of Congress and civil society to enact fair and compassionate immigration reform.

Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

The holiday season and the New Year offer a time for prayerful reflection and resolutions to do better for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our congregations. Many migrants and refugees in the United States, and their families and loved ones, are pleading that the New Year bring reform to our broken and inhumane immigration system. I was moved to learn of the story of Marco Gonzalez, a father in Detroit who left under a deportation order a few days after Christmas, leaving behind five children, a wife, a good job, and a saddened community. Last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced that nearly 369,000 men and women were deported in fiscal year 2013. Imagine the trauma and destruction in families and communities that result from each of these deportations, including the devastated Gonzalez family now struggling without their father. This is a moral crisis that unfolds every day across our nation, and that can be halted if Congress would enact immigration reform. Behind the statistics and rhetoric are families in pain; it is on their behalf that I’ll be working for immigration reform in 2014. We must not forget that.

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.

Image credit: Brokensphere

Reforma migratoria de 2014: “LA ACTUALIZACIÓN” para el lunes 13 de Enero

American flag 300Reforma migratoria: ¿La veremos en el 2014? Ese es el tema prioritario en la mente de cada persona este año.

Un complicado proceso legislativo y debate están por venir. Para descifrar los titulares para usted está “LA ACTUALIZACIÓN”, una serie de comentarios semanales en Internet (blog) cuyo panel de expertos analizará cómo los eventos recientes afectan las posibilidades para una reforma real. Los panelistas ofrecerán sus puntos de vista sobre lo que está sucediendo actualmente en el Capitolio, con el respaldo de sus décadas de experiencia con reformas migratorias y proceso legislativo.

Los representantes de los medios de comunicación que deseen hablar con uno de los panelistas, hagan clic aqui, aquí y para “Immigration Reform 2014: THE UPDATE for January 13, 2014.” Para todas las ediciones recientes de “LA ACTUALIZACIÓN”, hagan clic aquí.

Lisa Sharon Harper, Directora de Movilización, Sojourners:

El Año Nuevo trajo consigo una nueva esperanza en la lucha por la reforma migratoria. Recientemente, el periódico The New York Times informó que el Presidente de la Cámara Boehner podría acoger la reforma migratoria a principios del 2014. El saturado calendario legislativo, junto con la inminente temporada electoral, harán de la primera mitad del 2014 el momento ideal para que la Cámara trate este asunto. Aún así, es importante para que los grupos externos, especialmente las voces de comunidades de fe, continúen informando a sus oficiales electos que quieren la reforma ahora mismo. Los oficiales electos responden cuando sus electores alzan la voz. Tomemos a pecho la admonición del Apóstol Pablo en el 2014: “No nos cansemos de hacer el bien, porque a su debido tiempo cosecharemos si no nos damos por vencidos.” (Gálatas 6:9)

Brittney Nystrom, Directora de Propugnación de LIRS, Servicio Luterano de Inmigrantes y Refugiados:

El Año Nuevo entró con fuerza en DC con una ráfaga de optimismo en cuanto a que la reforma migratoria se haga realidad en el 2014. Este es un indicio bienvenido después de la estagnación de las labores en pro de la reforma en la Cámara de Representantes desde que el Senado aprobó su proyecto de ley de una reforma completa en junio del 2013. El Presidente de la Cámara Boehner inmediatamente habló sobre la inmigración, prometiendo, uno de los primeros días hábiles del Congreso del Año Nuevo, publicar una serie de principios conservadores que se han descrito como una forma en que los líderes de la Cámara intentan provocar la acción en ese organismo acerca de la inmigración. Los políticos no son los únicos que están hablando sobre la reforma migratoria como un asunto prioritario en el 2014. La Cámara de Comercio de Estados Unidos dio a conocer que está comprometida a “usar absolutamente todos sus recursos” para asegurar que la reforma migratoria se convierta en ley en el 2014. Aquí, en el Servicio Luterano de Inmigrantes y Refugiados, estamos ansiosos de dedicar el Año Nuevo a trabajar junto con los integrantes del Congreso y la sociedad civil en promulgar una reforma migratoria justa y compasiva.

Obispo Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Iglesia Luterana Evangélica en Estados Unidos:

La temporada festiva y el Año Nuevo ofrecen un período para reflexionar y resolver devotamente que haremos un mejor trabajo para nuestras familias, nuestras comunidades, nuestras congregaciones y para nosotros mismos. Gran cantidad de inmigrantes y refugiados en Estados Unidos, así como sus familias y seres queridos, están rogando que el Año Nuevo traiga consigo la reforma de nuestro sistema migratorio disfuncional e inhumano. Me conmoví al escuchar la historia de Marco González, un padre de familia en Detroit que salió bajo una orden de deportación pocos días después de Navidad, dejando cinco hijos, una esposa, un buen trabajo y una comunidad entristecida. El mes pasado, el Departamento de Seguridad Interna dio a conocer que casi 369,000 hombres y mujeres fueron deportados durante el año fiscal 2013. El trauma y la destrucción de las familias y comunidades que resulta de cada una de estas deportaciones, incluida la devastada familia González que ahora está en aprietos sin su padre, es inimaginable. Esta es una crisis moral que se desenvuelve a diario en todo nuestro país, y que puede detenerse si el Congreso promulgara la reforma migratoria. Detrás de las estadísticas y la retórica hay familias que sufren; es en representación de dichas familias que trabajaré a favor de la reforma migratoria en el 2014. No debemos olvidar eso.

Image credit: Brokensphere

Immigration Reform 2013: THE UPDATE for Monday December 23

Immigration Reform 2013 The Update jpegImmigration 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.

Immigration Reform 2013: THE UPDATE for Monday December 16

Immigration Reform 2013 The Update jpegImmigration 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.

Immigration Reform 2013: THE UPDATE for Monday December 9

Immigration Reform 2013 The Update jpegImmigration 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.

Immigration Reform 2013: THE UPDATE for Monday November 25

Immigration Reform 2013 The Update jpegImmigration 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 25 de noviembre.”

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:

What a difference a year makes!  At this time last year, following elections in which immigration played a deciding factor in many elections,  we were anticipating that maybe, just maybe, immigration reform could happen.  As we start to reflect on the year, we need to give thanks for how far we’ve come – the passage of comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate,  bipartisan support for comprehensive reform in the House, and the tremendous outpouring of support for reform across the political and ideological spectrum!  While there’s a very long way to go, we have built a huge community committed to the idea that a fair, humane, and just immigration system is not only possible, but will bring significant benefits to individuals and the country as a whole.  I’m thankful for this amazing support that exists for immigration reform.  And should you need additional help in bringing others along over Thanksgiving turkey and pie, go to immigrationimpact.com and check out our blog posts on “talking turkey” about immigration.

Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners:

As of this Monday, I will have been fasting with the #Fast4Families: Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship event for 14 days. I began my fast with this prayer: “Holy, holy, holy God. Forgive us. Break our willfully sinful posture toward the most sacred unit in your creation: the family. Move our nation and its Congress to repentance. And give us your peace.” God has certainly made my heart more sensitive to the cries of immigrant families over the past 14 days. In my first two days in the fasting tent on the National Mall, I participated in two evening vigils. During the first, I listened to an African woman sing a song in French. Not knowing the French language, I didn’t know what she was saying. But in the midst of her singing I began to weep and couldn’t stop. I heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit whisper to my soul: “Keep going. Don’t stop until I tell you to.” The next morning I decided to keep going until God tells me to stop. That evening a young boy about 8 years old stood on a chair because he was too short to be seen if he stood on the ground. And he sang a song he wrote about the day ICE took his uncle away: “Why are you leaving us?,” he belted in Spanish. “When will we see you again?” I was heart-broken. More than anything else, the #Fast4Families has reminded me of what this is really all about. Immigration is not merely a political or economic issue. It is a moral issue. It is about families. Please join me in praying both for all those who are fasting and for Speaker Boehner who has the power to bring immigration reform up for a vote in the House of Representatives. May God grant our leaders the courage to put families ahead of politics.

Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

As the nation prepares for our annual Thanksgiving feast, there are many migrant and refugee families who are still waiting and praying desperately for immigration reform.  The case for updating our laws is solid.  Without a fair and compassionate immigration system families suffer separation from their loved ones, businesses suffer lack of talent they need to thrive, and communities and congregations suffer from seeing their friends and neighbors fearful and marginalized.  The solution is not out of reach; the House of Representatives must move forward this calendar year immigration reform that address the myriad shortcomings of our current immigration laws.

Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service:

We should all be thankful for the diversity and richness that migrants and refugees contribute to our nation. The House of Representatives should do what they can to embrace and foster our identity as a nation of immigrants rather than continuing to stall on the critical issue of immigration reform. The Senate has done this, the President continues to call for this, and the people are increasingly taking action in the streets and this week on the National Mall to demand this.  Our prayers are with the millions of people this week of Thanksgiving who are fasting, hoping, and wishing for a new set of immigration laws founded in fairness and compassion.

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.

Immigration Reform 2013: THE UPDATE for Monday November 18

Immigration Reform 2013 The Update jpegImmigration 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 also read “Reforma migratoria de 2013: “LA ACTUALIZACIÓN” para el lunes 18 de noviembre.”

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:

While most media outlets are consumed with writing immigration reform’s obituary, the Holy Spirit may be moving in surprising and inspiring ways. After all, this issue is about far more than politics. It is a moral issue affecting millions of people and countless families. Regardless of the news accounts, the push for reform remains strong. Last week a group of prominent evangelical leaders met with the President at the White House to talk about the faith community’s role in finding a way forward. The day before, near the steps of the U.S. Capitol, I joined leaders of pro-reform groups in fasting to highlight the  11 million undocumented immigrants who await action by the House. Recently, two undocumented young people approached House Speaker John Boehner and urged him to allow a vote on immigration reform. Boehner assured them that he was trying to find a way to move forward, yet hours later he told the press, “Frankly, I’ll make clear, we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill.” Scripture says: “Let your yes be yes and your no be no” (Matthew 5:37). For months the American people have been told “maybe,” “soon,” and “eventually.” It is time for the House to address this issue in a substantive way that demonstrates they have a real path for fixing our broken immigration system.

Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

Two powerful scenes in Washington, D.C. illustrate how strong and deep the desire for immigration reform runs throughout this land. On the National Mall, members of faith, labor, and immigrant rights organizations are fasting to draw attention to the moral underpinnings of welcoming immigrants. In the words of one fast participant, his hunger is not only for food but is “a hunger for an end to a system that creates such misery among those who come here to escape poverty and violence in search of the American Dream.” This plea for compassion and justice for immigrants was also heard in the voices of two teenagers who approached Speaker of the House John Boehner at a diner on Capitol Hill. The young girls spoke of their parents who face deportation as a consequence of political inaction on immigration reform. I pray that the bravery and courage shown in the actions of the fasters and the youth who demand a better immigration system can overcome the political morass that has bogged down needed reform for too long.

Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Schizophrenic is probably the best word to describe the immigration reform debate in Washington in recent days.  Speaker of the House John Boehner made big headlines recently by publicly stating to reporters that the House of Representatives does not intend to proceed to a conference with the Senate on immigration reform legislation.  Hordes of reporters immediately rushed to declare that this latest statement signaled the end of the road for immigration reform prospects this year.  Astute followers of immigration reform efforts will recognize that these death proclamations are not new, and are not accurate.  In fact, on the opposite end of the political spectrum, President Obama has been spending time in the Oval Office discussing how to achieve immigration reform with business and faith leaders.  While some politicians are leaning in to the issue and others are backing away, the American people continue to demonstrate that they want an immigration system that unites families, allows businesses to thrive, and lives up to our American ideals.  Under our Constitution, We the People have the ultimate say, and we overwhelmingly want just and compassionate reform. 

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!

Immigration Reform 2013: THE UPDATE for Monday November 11

Immigration Reform 2013 The Update jpegImmigration 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 also read “Reforma migratoria de 2013: “LA ACTUALIZACIÓN” para el lunes 11 de noviembre.”

Given the most recent developments, are we getting any closer to immigration reform? Here’s what the panelists have to say:

Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

As the legislative days remaining in 2013 tick away, advocates are escalating their demands for the House to move immigration reform forward.  These outspoken reformers come from unexpected places: corporate boardrooms, university campuses, and increasingly, houses of worship. They come because the pain of the migrants and refugees they live, work, and pray with are living in pain and in fear.  They come because the way our laws operate now is tearing families apart.  They will continue to come until our lawmakers reform our immigration system and create a process that offers mercy, justice, and dignity for all. As Sister JoAnn Persch from Chicago described her advocacy on behalf of immigrants to a reporter this week, “What we do, we do peacefully and respectfully, but we never take no for an answer.”

Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

This week, a confluence of events from all over the political spectrum kept immigration reform in the public discourse.  The gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia renewed discussion of the shifting demographics of the electorate, especially the growing numbers of Latino and Asian voters.  President Obama and business leaders from international corporations such as McDonald’s and Marriott International convened at the White House in an effort to keep the heat on members of the House of Representatives considering reforms to the immigration laws. From the left, the AFL-CIO announced a major ad buy targeting conservative lawmakers who are blocking reform  Business leaders, unions, the President, and the pundits all continue to focus on immigration reform, illustrating how this issue remains ahead of us rather than behind us.

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!

Immigration Reform 2013: THE UPDATE for Monday November 4

Immigration Reform 2013 The Update jpegImmigration 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 also read “Reforma migratoria de 2013: “LA ACTUALIZACIÓN” para el lunes 4 de noviembre.”

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

More than 600 conservative activists descended on Washington last week to promote immigration reform, drumming up support for bipartisan action in the House this year.   By the end of the week, three Republicans signed on to H.R. 15, making it a bipartisan bill and bringing total co-sponsors to 187. Coincidence?  Of course not.  As pressure from the left, the right, and the middle grows to get something done, more and more Republican House Members recognize that they have to step up their game on immigrations reform.  Not all of them may choose H.R. 15, but if enough of those who have expressed support for a path to citizenship sign on to it, then the chances that some kind of bipartisan compromise can be brokered increase.   New bipartisan bills are coming out as well, such as the American Families United Act, in which Republican Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Democrat Beto O-Rourke of Texas take on some of the many technical issues in the law that routinely separate family members.   This may show that people are trying to find small ways to come together, but if enough of those moments happen, we will have the proverbial little acorn/big oak moment.   Keeping up the pressure, continuing to call for common sense and responsible legislating, not giving up, are all critical to changing our immigration system.  As my colleague Wendy Feliz wrote last week, immigration reform is alive and well, and sprouting new branches all the time.

Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners

More than 600 conservative leaders from nearly 40 states descended on Washington D.C. last week to urge House members to take action on immigration reform this year. Leaders from the faith, business and law enforcement community walked the halls of House buildings with one clear message: “Pass immigration reform this year.” The leaders met with over 100 members of Congress asking for commonsense immigration reform to remain the top legislative priority. These efforts come at the same time as a recent surge of bipartisan support for H.R. 15, a House bill modeled off of the legislation that passed in the Senate. The bill also incorporates border security elements from Republican House proposals. All this activity in Washington is a reminder that there are millions of Americans desperately waiting for our leaders to act and praying their hope and work will not be in vain.

Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

In keeping with last week’s Halloween theme, immigration reform legislation was declared “undead” by at least one reporter following it.  This zombie-like declaration confirms that the issue continues to haunt the halls of Congress.  The recent infusion of life into the immigration reform debate came was attributed to three House Republicans endorsing a comprehensive immigration reform bill, H.R. 15, introduced by Democrats.  But other indications abound that immigration reform is not disappearing from the political spotlight.  Also last week, over 600 conservative business owners, law enforcement officials, and faith leaders converged on the Hill to push immigration reform forward, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and former Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS) provided rationale for improving our immigration laws to participants of an immigration policy conference of academics and advocates.  With legislators continuing to speak, act, and hear about the issue, I like the odds of receiving the treat of immigration laws that work for America rather than more political tricks.

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!

Immigration Reform 2013: THE UPDATE for Monday October 28

Immigration Reform 2013 The Update jpegImmigration 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 also read “Reforma migratoria de 2013: “LA ACTUALIZACIÓN” para el lunes 28 de octubre.”

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

As Washington debates how to move forward on immigration reform, evangelicals continue to remind legislators of the urgent need for action. Last week, thousands of evangelical Christians gathered in support of #Pray4Reform: Gathered Together in Jesus’ Name, a nationwide week of events. Dozens of major events and hundreds of prayer gatherings took place across the country, reflecting the groundswell of support for immigration reform that exists within the evangelical community. In addition, the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a letter to members in the House urging bipartisan cooperation to fix our broken immigration system this fall. The letter cited multiple concerns with legislation known as the SAFE Act, which focuses on interior enforcement and could be voted on by the House in the near future. Now it is time to make it difficult for our leaders to ignore continued pressure by people of faith to fix our broken system. Continue to speak out and encourage our leaders to take action now.

Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

We have waited much too long for a fair and compassionate immigration reform and can’t be dissuaded by government shutdowns and political squabbles. It is clear that Americans want immigration reform, and that migrant and refugee families deserve it. We welcome the President’s recognition that advocates for immigration reform have persisted out of passion and will not be easily deterred from achieving our goal. But we must also recognize that for migrants and refugees and their families and communities, the effort to achieve immigration reform is much more than political. It’s personal. Where immigration is concerned, we cannot stop short of achieving the American value of liberty and justice for all.

Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Despite recent, dramatic headlines from various media outlets announcing the alleged death of immigration reform, the political machinery in D.C. moved forward action on a workable immigration system. Speaker Boehner publicly stated that he is hopeful an immigration bill will be voted on in the House of Representatives this year.  President Obama delivered from the White House an impassioned case for passing smart immigration reform this year, urging that “everybody wins” if lawmakers reform our broken immigration laws. In addition to high-profile public speeches, rumors swirled of the imminent introduction by Republican members of Congress of bills to legalize some of the undocumented population. Nearly all Democratic members of the House have endorsed a comprehensive immigration reform bill based on the Senate-passed version. Although the legislative details are murky and the rhetoric is vague, the stirrings of progress are unmistakable. Immigration reform is ready for takeoff.

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!