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.
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
This is a critical time for immigration reform. While there have been a lot of dire warnings that the House will never take up the Senate bill or never come up with a solution on its own, this is only going to happen if we give up. The gravity of a bill passing the Senate with a bipartisan majority—including many conservative Republicans—is just now beginning to sink in on the House side. New polls that continue to show overwhelming support for a path to citizenship, even among Republican voters , are difficult to ignore. And if you thought the procedures the Senate uses to get a bill to final passage were complex and confusing, well—it’s even more complex in the House. So rather than focus on process—the what and how of a bill—those of us who care about immigration reform must continue to press our elected officials on the imperative of reform. It ‘s good for the country economically, socially, and culturally. It’s the morally right thing to do. Immigration reform is, in fact, a defining issue for the country to do. The House needs to get on the right side of the issue—and we need to get them there.
Ivone Guillen, Immigration Campaign and Communications Associate, Sojourners
The big question whirling in people’s minds last week was what would result from a private meeting on July 10 of the House GOP caucus where the fate of immigration reform was discussed. Based on statements of various GOP House members, some worried that nothing positive could result and others saw a few rays of hope. Media outlets were quick to broadcast the challenges to a comprehensive approach that includes a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans. While it appears the House will move forward with a piecemeal approach, many acknowledged that the issue must be addressed by the House. Various public opinion polls show that the American people want our broken immigration system fixed, so the fact that the process continues to advance in the House should be taken as an encouraging sign. However, accomplishing actual reform that is truly “welcoming of the stranger” requires people of faith to now turn their focus on the House and continue advocating their representatives. That is why evangelical Christians are mobilizing in D.C. on July 24th for a Day of Prayer and Action, with plans to visit their members of Congress to urge them to pass immigration reform that is reflective of biblical values. The fight in the House is undoubtedly a challenge, but it is also an opportunity to convince all 435 representatives that this is the right and moral thing to do for both our nation and our immigrant brothers and sisters.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Currently, Americans are watching the House of Representatives for indications of whether the chamber will consider moving forward on immigration reform or will avoid the topic through delay tactics. But political weather is notoriously difficult to predict. There are dark clouds on the horizon and there continue to be rays of sunlight for those striving for immigration reform. Even after a much-anticipated, closed-door meeting on July 10 of House Republicans to discuss immigration reform strategy, their next steps remain unknown. Some representatives called for action to accomplish something on the immigration issue, while others questioned if the House and Senate would ever agree on how to fix our outdated immigration system. Former President George W. Bush re-emerged on the political scene to call for a “positive resolution to the debate” and recognition of the “contributions that immigrants make to our country.” Additionally, a broader consensus in Congress seems to be agreeing that undocumented immigrant youth need a solution to their plight. At this moment, the forecast for immigration reform is partly cloudy, with the winds continuing to shift.
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!