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
The swift condemnation by House leadership of congressman Steve King for his derogatory remarks about DREAM Act students was a welcome sign that the times are changing. As Speaker Boehner said, we can have honest policy disagreements without resorting to name-calling. I take heart in that, as for too long immigration reform, particularly in the House, has been a rhetorical food fight rather than a thoughtful debate. The moral, economic, and social arguments in favor of reform are so significant that there is nothing left for the Steve king’s of the world to do but resort to name calling. If we take our good arguments to members of congress we can move them. After all, how many in the house of representatives really want to stand with Steve king after this week?
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
Last week evangelical Christians flooded the halls of Congress as part of the ongoing efforts to press the House to pass common sense immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship. More than 300 evangelicals held more than 110 meetings with prominent Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and House Immigration Subcommittee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) who will each be key in getting immigration reform passed. “Yesterday,” Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, said, “we called upon our lawmakers to take up the urgency of what we consider to be more than a political issue; it is a moral task.”These next few weeks will be crucial in the movement for immigration reform in the House. Urgent action is needed in every district as House members spend the month of August holding town hall meetings in their districts. People of faith across the nation must take this critical opportunity to let their voices be heard directly by their members. We must show up at these town hall meetings. We must pray for our leaders and their deliberations. We can also take this opportunity to invite them to our own churches and communities to meet the very people who care about the decisions they make—people of faith and the immigrants themselves. As members travel to their home districts, we must make it clear: Inaction is not an option.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
The immigration drama continues to play out in the House of Representatives. The latest act was an emotional hearing on the immigration status of undocumented youth, often referred to as DREAMers. Four Members of Congress and others testified, but the undisputed stars of the hearing were two young women who shared personal stories of how our current immigration laws shatter dreams and families. The lawmakers presiding over the hearing thanked these brave women for their testimony, and invited them to comment on immigration reforms now being debated in the House. One witness described, in reference to her undocumented mother, how she wants to be part of the United States; she wants the opportunities and responsibilities of being a United States citizen. Congress is about to leave the stage for their weeks-long August recess. What they hear from constituents while they are home will shape the final acts of this drama. For now, with Members of Congress publicly acknowledging that at least some of the people living in the United States without immigration papers deserve the opportunity to resolve their status, there are more signs that this show will have a happy ending.
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!