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
Spring is in the air in Washington, D.C. This means not only talk of cherry blossoms and daffodils, but the arrival of thousands of people advocating for their causes on the Hill. Lobby Days by various organizations supporting immigration reform have shown high turnout and enthusiastic response, bus tours of immigrant families affected by deportation have made their way to Washington, and the women’s movement is turning out on the 18th to voice support. The political pressure, as well as the substance, of immigration reform, is absolutely critical right now, and as long as people keep the pressure high on our elected officials, I am optimistic that the immigration reform train will keep moving!
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The synod I serve encompasses Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee. In our deep-south neighborhood, we’ve seen an advertising war break out in South Carolina last week when pro-reform groups and anti-reform groups each bought air time for radio and television ads. It has been interesting to see this ad war get underway at the same time that a bus filled with immigrants rolled into D.C. These immigrants were calling on their congressional representatives to draft an immigration reform bill that includes a pathway to full citizenship for undocumented persons in the United States and unifies families torn apart by recent immigration enforcement. With the White House, Congress, and the public devoting significant time and energy to immigration issues, the odds keep increasing that a reform package will happen this year.
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
We are encouraged by the steady march toward just and comprehensive immigration reform within our nation’s capital. The president’s meeting with faith leaders last Friday was especially encouraging. As Jim Wallis explained to ABC News immediately following the meeting: The president’s message was that “there is more than politics involved here, there are moral issues involved here and that is what the faith community is lifting up. He thanked us for that.” And there is serious reason to be encouraged. Evangelicals are steadily taking up the “I Was a Stranger Challenge.” Churches, Christian college campuses, and individuals are taking the challenge in 49 states and on six continents. Radio ads launched this week in South Carolina on Christian radio and the truth behind many of the anti-immigrant organizations is being revealed and decreasing their credibility with those who used to be their base. The challenge now is to keep our eye on the goal. We must not get distracted by petty politics. What matters is the more than 11 million people, and countless families, currently ensnared by our broken immigration system.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Although D.C. headlines were dominated this week by President Obama’s continuing outreach to congressional Republicans, the president has also been busy strategizing with leaders in the broad push for an immigration overhaul. Over the past few days, the president has sat down in separate meetings with faith leaders and business leaders to build momentum for commonsense immigration reform in Congress. Congress will also be filling the few remaining days until Easter Recess with all manner of hearings on immigration issues, ranging from border security to family based immigration visas to the effect of the sequester on immigration detention. The signs are good that the odds are increasing that we’ll see fair and compassionate immigration reform in 2013.
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!