Immigration Reform 2013: THE UPDATE for Monday April 15

Immigration Reform 2013 The Update jpeg

News Flash! The Senate immigration reform bill, S. 744, was released this Wednesday morning.  Click here to read about how it aligns with the LIRS principle on alternatives to detention, and here for analysis of its wider contents and implications!

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.

This week’s edition appears in both English and Spanish.

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. See also today’s post, “S.1: Immigration Reform, Earned Citizenship, and Family Unity at Stake.”

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

As the cherry blossoms peaked, thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C. to call for immigration reform.  We are getting tantalizing tidbits about the bill but I can’t stress enough that we won’t know what we are getting until we see the text of the legislation. I think this will be legislation that opens the door to a new era in immigration but we have a lot of hard work ahead to turn the excitement and momentum of this week into a new law.

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

It is seeming more and more likely that we are going to have an immigration reform bill very soon! While we don’t know the details of whatever bill will finally be debated, amended and passed, this is a rare moment to hope for and imagine a bill that will bring America closer to our noblest values: liberty and justice for all, a nation that is a refuge for the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Like everyone who yearns for a more fair and more functional immigration system, I’m excited to see us at this place in the struggle for humane, comprehensive immigration reform. We’ve been cautioned that the bill will not be perfect in anyone’s eyes, still, I’m relishing the moment, in these last few hours or days before the legislation is expected, to imagine the possibilities of an America that truly welcomes those who have come here, not to harm us, but to find a better life for themselves and their families.

Stacy Martin,  Vice President for External Relations and Development, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

The prospect of a comprehensive immigration reform package that meets the needs of immigrants who are currently forced to live in the shadows is something LIRS has long championed and fought for. It’s good to hear, at least on the Senate side, that the argument for a fair and earned pathway to citizenship seems won at this stage. Of course, as the adage goes, the devil is, indeed, in the details. What we’ll need to keep our eyes most intentionally on this week, when the Senate unveils its draft, is that of family unity and the possible erosion of our unique and important family-based visa system. To phase out the very system that has engendered this country’s greatness as a nation of immigrants is short-sighted at best. We’ll also need to see what measures the draft bill takes in reducing the use of arbitrary detention as an automatic enforcement tool. Our hope for any new immigration reform legislation is that the government uses this opportunity to create an efficient and humane enforcement system, which necessarily relies on alternatives and community-based support.

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

It’s difficult to capture in words the energy and emotion around immigration reform right now in Washington, D.C.  Conflicting press accounts and statements from the Gang of 8 senators working on a bipartisan immigration solution have led to rampant speculation about when a comprehensive immigration reform bill will be introduced.  Tens of thousands of immigrants, their supporters, and advocates for immigration reform gathered outside the Capitol building on Wednesday, April 10 to add a vocal and visual reminder of the desire of the people for immigration reform.  Rumors persist that a few lingering issues are still be hashed out amongst the bill’s authors, but the momentum is undeniable.

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 an interview 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!

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