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 also read “Reforma migratoria de 2013: “LA ACTUALIZACIÓN” para el lunes 21 de octubre.”
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
Could immigration reform provide a moment of healing for a badly dysfunctional Congress? That’s on the minds of many as we look at the next few months. With only 27 working days before Congress is set to adjourn, the Members of the House of Representatives, in particular, will be anxious to put the last few weeks behind them. While many observers are already arguing that taking votes on immigration reform would be an economically and politically savvy move, there is some worry that the politically charged battle has poisoned the well for immigration reform, with some Republicans arguing that the failure to negotiate over the budget and the debt ceiling makes it impossible to believe that Democrats will negotiate on immigration. That’s not the lesson to draw from the last few weeks, however. Instead, the real message is that the House can pass bills when it allows a majority of its Members, not a majority of Republicans or a majority of Democrats, but a majority of all the Members, to take a vote on issues that matter. We can move immigration reform, and many other issues if reasonable minds in both parties are given the freedom to come together without artificial constructs like the “Hastert rule.” If the House truly represents the people, then immigration reform has a good chance of passing because the majority of Americans know that immigration reform is necessary. Under those circumstances, plenty of people will come to the table and negotiate.
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
While Congress fought over the budget and debt ceiling, heartbreaking stories of families being torn apart by our broken immigration system have become daily headlines. At the same time, the lack of a functioning system continues to hurt industry and our already struggling economy. Now that the shutdown is over, the debt ceiling has been raised, and Congress is back in session, immigration reform legislation must be the priority. Both President Obama and leaders in the evangelical community have already stated that immigration is the top priority. The rest of the nation is ready for our leaders to finally address this problem. People of faith must call on our legislators to take action now.
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The end to the Congressional gridlock comes none too soon for families that continue to suffer separation due to senseless deportations or broken immigration laws. By the end of 2013 it’s predicted that 2 million people will have been deported during the Obama Administration. We are grateful that Congress struck a deal to reopen the government and end the shutdown’s negative consequences for migrants and refugees and their families and communities. Now we call on Congress to return to the critically important work of compassionate reforms to our immigration laws.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
It’s always darkest before the dawn, according to the old saying. Public opinion regarding Congress and its ability to govern has certainly been dark as of late. While the nation endured over two weeks of shuttered federal offices, furloughed employees, and devastating consequences for individuals affected by the shutdown, the prospects of Congress agreeing on a solution to our dysfunctional immigration system seemed dim. But now that the streets of D.C. and the halls of Congress are humming again with tourists and fully employed workers, the mood is noticeably sunnier. Likewise, the prospects for immigration reform are brightening. In his remarks after the successful resolution to the funding impasse, President Obama mentioned immigration reform as a priority issue and called on Congress to pass bipartisan reform by the end of this year. Pundits are predicting that Republicans may attempt to polish their tarnished image by showing they are capable to resolving a complicated and grave issue like immigration. Over 180 Democratic members of the House of Representatives have endorsed a comprehensive immigration reform bill based on bipartisan legislation that has cleared the Senate. As the latest obstacle to immigration reform fades into the past, we expect a serious and reasonable debate on this issue to begin soon in the House.
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!