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:
Bishop Julian Gordy, Immigration Ready Bench, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Our legislature is finally debating immigration reform. A day and a half before the first hearing to take up changes to S.744, the Senate’s immigration reform bill authored by the Gang of Eight, over 300 amendments were filed by Senate Judiciary Committee members. This mountain of amendments provided fodder for a day-long hearing on Thursday. Debate ranged from better detention conditions for unaccompanied children apprehended at the border to the amount of fencing and technology needed to monitor border crossings. All of these amendments show that lawmakers are feeling the heat to produce immigration reform tailored to their constituents’ concerns – a good sign, since the momentum seems to be on our side.
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
Last week, the Evangelical Immigration Table launched its “Pray4Reform 92 Day Challenge” and sent an open letter to Congress urging them to enact bipartisan, commonsense immigration reform within the next 92 days. The table’s work to educate evangelicals on the realities of our current system, its failures, and the Biblical basis for immigration reform is notable, particularly in light of recent attempts to drive wedges and sow division. Last week, the Heritage Foundation released a controversial report that distorts the economic cost of reform. Many leading conservatives have rejected it as a scare tactic. Sen. Marco Rubio said, “The folks described in that report are my family. My mother and dad didn’t graduate high school and I would not say they were a burden on the United States … My parents were a lot better off 25 years after they emigrated here than they were when they first got here. And their children certainly have been.” As the Senate Judiciary Committee begins the mark-up process, my prayer is that they will focus on the voices of hope instead of arguments that are designed to stoke fear.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Multiple hearings on the Senate bill immigration reform bill, S.744, are scheduled for the next two weeks. The energy around these hearings is exciting: Long lines of people waiting to attend, vigils of people of faith prayed for migrants and their families, and late-night conference calls for immigration advocates and organizers to compare notes on strategy. As the hearings continue to roll, and the votes are counted on the multitude of amendments, we are encouraged that reform is underway. It’s not a moment too soon for refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, and their families and communities.
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!