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.
For this post in Spanish, please click here.
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
Last week, the country celebrated Citizenship Day (also known as Constitution Day), with naturalization ceremonies, presidential proclamations, and a week of events organized by the community integration group Welcoming America. Whether national or local, each of these events marked the important role that immigrants play in their communities—those who have been living and working in those communities for decades as well as those who are newly arrived. While one can live happily and comfortably in the United States as a lawful permanent resident, full integration for most people means becoming a citizen because it represents the ultimate expression of pride and commitment to their new home. Citizenship opens the door to full civic participation, too, through the voting booth. That’s why, as the debate over immigration reform progresses, remembering the importance of citizenship is going to be critical. Citizenship is the key to a door that many of the undocumented hope to walk through—it’s up to the country to give them that chance.
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
While Congress focuses its attention on SNAP cuts and fiscal issues for the next few weeks, immigration reform advocates continue to push for passage of reform this fall. One positive development is the emergence of new voices advocating for common sense solutions. Catholic colleges and universities, a group of 1,200 Jewish rabbis, and a group of evangelicals and business leaders in Texas have all spoken out recently in support of reform. Even as other issues require immediate attention in September, grassroots support for immigration reform continues to grow. This rising call for action reveals two things: 1) The spirit of God is moving the people of God to fix our broken immigration system 2) and, as a nation, we are beginning to understand that a working immigration system is within our grasp—if only our leaders would act.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Last week felt like a holding pattern on immigration. Fiscal issues around the federal government’s budget and the debt ceiling continue to occupy Congressional attention. The grim news of the mass shooting at the Navy Yard also hangs heavy over Capitol Hill and the American people. Despite the feeling of being stuck in neutral on immigration reform, political leaders continue efforts on behalf of newcomers and aspiring Americans. President Obama firmly called on Speaker Boehner (R-OH) to bring immigration reform legislation to a vote in the House. Myriad government officials oversaw naturalization ceremonies welcoming over 18,000 new citizens in honor of Citizenship Day and Constitution Day. Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and other members of the House took to the House Floor to remind their fellow members of Congress of “the immigrant heritage of our country.” Rep. Hoyer praised immigrants as willing to take great risks “just for a chance to make it in America” and called on Congress to work together to pursue immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. With powerful and tireless allies like the President and Rep. Hoyer, not to mention the passionate Americans who continue to raise their voices for compassion and justice, the fight for immigration reform remains underway.
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!