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. For the latest on legislation, see “Immigration Reform: S.744 Offers Historic and Bipartisan Progress.”
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
Groups across the country welcomed the arrival of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, a truly comprehensive effort to create an improved immigration system that addresses the immediate concerns of 11 million undocumented immigrants, a more flexible and dynamic labor market, and longterm adjustments to legal immigration in this country. The good news is that the bill contains an aggressive backlog reduction program to reunite families and expand employment opportunities for permanent, temporary and new workers, as well as entrepreneurs and other innovators. It also increases the attention paid to integration. The disturbing news is that several limits on family based immigration down the road and elimination of the diversity visa were put in place to achieve other expansions—a cost benefit analysis that many people will be carefully analyzing to see who is helped and hurt by the new provisions. The bill is thoughtful in many ways, however, offering a balance between security measures and a more generous and compassionate immigration system that we need now more than ever.
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
I witnessed many passionate conversations during this week’s 2013 Lutheran Immigration Leadership Summit when dozens of Lutheran leaders met with legislators and White House officials to invite them to enact reforms that unify families and treat aspiring Americans with fairness. Hearings on the immigration reform bill in the Senate begin immediately. I know I am joined by many in welcoming the start of the legislative process that may deliver comprehensive immigration reform. There will be numerous hearings and many proposed changes to this bill, but the fact that a bipartisan plan to comprehensively reform our immigration laws has been filed moves us significantly closer to a day when the President signs immigration reform into law.
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
It’s been a long time coming, but it is finally here. The Senate working group (Gang of 8) officially announced a bill this week, allowing debate to move forward toward commonsense immigration reform. Not since 2007 has a bill passed through the halls of Congress inviting open debate on the best solutions to fix America’s broken immigration system. As this long overdue debate reignites, we are aware that the current bill is not perfect. Concerns will need to be addressed and public input will be necessary, but we must remember that this time around, the debate is different. This time, Americans across the country are actively urging Congress to enact workable immigration reform that reflects both our nation’s interests and our values. One vivid example of this groundswell of support was seen at last week’s Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action for Immigration Reform. Evangelicals in all 50 states have now taken up the “I Was a Stranger Challenge.” On Wednesday, nearly 300 Evangelical leaders from 20 states joined forces in Washington, D.C. They urged their members of Congress to enact practical, long-term, and just solutions. Now, we look forward to continued collaboration from both sides of the aisle to further develop the Senate bipartisan legislation.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Last week was the week that advocates of a better immigration and refugee system have been pushing for and eagerly awaiting. A bipartisan bill to reform our immigration system is now awaiting action in the Senate. I have spent a great deal of time this week on Capitol Hill and am happy to report that buzz about immigration can be heard up and down the marbled halls of Congress. Advocates, lawmakers, staffers, and reporters are discussing and explaining the changes proposed by the Gang of Eight’s bill. Some of these conversations are flashy press conferences featuring the bill’s authors, but many others are quiet and heartfelt exchanges. Taken together, the signs are good for immigration reform passing in a respectable form.
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!