Immigration reform: Will we see it in 2013? That’s the burning question on everyone’s mind this year.
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A complicated debate and legislative process lie ahead. Here to decipher the headlines for you is THE UPDATE, a Monday morning 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.
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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
It’s hard to believe, but ambiguity is a sign of progress in immigration reform. Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee tried to claim that citizenship was an extreme response to solving the question of undocumented immigration, even though their own Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, was endorsing the DREAM Act and citizenship at virtually the same time. Other Republican House members, like Darryl Issa, said they supported a path to citizenship, while rumors continue that a group of House Republicans and Democrats will also introduce legislation that includes citizenship. All told, the lack of unanimity is a good sign, suggesting that the tight party hold on issues in the House is dissolving when it comes to immigration reform.
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
This week’s House hearings on immigration reform revealed that the GOP is still divided about a roadmap to citizenship for the more than 11 million aspiring Americans. Such an approach is morally troubling, as it would set up a permanent underclass within the U.S., leaving millions of people and thousands of families vulnerable to the pain of deportation and separation. It also ignores the image of God within millions by permanently relegating them to low-wage jobs and generations of poverty. The GOP seems to be playing by an outdated playbook. According to a recent Politico report, the GOP’s own base is beginning to march in a different direction. A groundswell of support is emerging from the faith, law enforcement, and business communities for an earned path to citizenship. A recent statement by Christian Churches Together in the USA, the broadest coalition of Christian denominations in the U.S., explicitly calls for legislation that provides a roadmap to citizenship. The GOP should listen to their base and pick up the new playbook. Their recognition of the changed landscape would represent real progress in the push immigration reform.
Brittney Nystrom, Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Immigration reform remained a sizzling topic last week, thanks to a six-hour hearing before the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee devoted exclusively to the issue. Interest in immigration is only going to spike this week. Anyone placing bets on the content of the State of the Union address coming up on Feb. 12 would be wise to remember that President Obama made a special trip to Las Vegas just a few days ago to unveil his proposal on how to fix the broken immigration system. Sen. Rubio, one of the members of the bipartisan “gang” of senators who have released their own set of principles on immigration reform, has been picked to deliver the GOP response to the State of the Union. You can be sure that immigration will appear in his rejoinder. Finally, the Senate is poised to hold a hearing of its own on immigration reform the day following the State of the Union. All in all, with immigration reform sitting atop all other issues in Washington, meaningful reform feels possible.
Next Monday, THE UPDATE will analyze the key events such as the State of the Union address. 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!
To see the latest edition ofTHE UPDATE, for Tuesday, February 19, click here.