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.
Media representatives who wish to speak with one of the panelists, please click here. If you would like to read previous editions of THE UPDATE, please click here. You can also read “Reforma migratoria de 2013: “LA ACTUALIZACIÓN” para el lunes 4 de noviembre.”
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
More than 600 conservative activists descended on Washington last week to promote immigration reform, drumming up support for bipartisan action in the House this year. By the end of the week, three Republicans signed on to H.R. 15, making it a bipartisan bill and bringing total co-sponsors to 187. Coincidence? Of course not. As pressure from the left, the right, and the middle grows to get something done, more and more Republican House Members recognize that they have to step up their game on immigrations reform. Not all of them may choose H.R. 15, but if enough of those who have expressed support for a path to citizenship sign on to it, then the chances that some kind of bipartisan compromise can be brokered increase. New bipartisan bills are coming out as well, such as the American Families United Act, in which Republican Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Democrat Beto O-Rourke of Texas take on some of the many technical issues in the law that routinely separate family members. This may show that people are trying to find small ways to come together, but if enough of those moments happen, we will have the proverbial little acorn/big oak moment. Keeping up the pressure, continuing to call for common sense and responsible legislating, not giving up, are all critical to changing our immigration system. As my colleague Wendy Feliz wrote last week, immigration reform is alive and well, and sprouting new branches all the time.
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
More than 600 conservative leaders from nearly 40 states descended on Washington D.C. last week to urge House members to take action on immigration reform this year. Leaders from the faith, business and law enforcement community walked the halls of House buildings with one clear message: “Pass immigration reform this year.” The leaders met with over 100 members of Congress asking for commonsense immigration reform to remain the top legislative priority. These efforts come at the same time as a recent surge of bipartisan support for H.R. 15, a House bill modeled off of the legislation that passed in the Senate. The bill also incorporates border security elements from Republican House proposals. All this activity in Washington is a reminder that there are millions of Americans desperately waiting for our leaders to act and praying their hope and work will not be in vain.
Brittney Nystrom, LIRS Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
In keeping with last week’s Halloween theme, immigration reform legislation was declared “undead” by at least one reporter following it. This zombie-like declaration confirms that the issue continues to haunt the halls of Congress. The recent infusion of life into the immigration reform debate came was attributed to three House Republicans endorsing a comprehensive immigration reform bill, H.R. 15, introduced by Democrats. But other indications abound that immigration reform is not disappearing from the political spotlight. Also last week, over 600 conservative business owners, law enforcement officials, and faith leaders converged on the Hill to push immigration reform forward, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and former Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS) provided rationale for improving our immigration laws to participants of an immigration policy conference of academics and advocates. With legislators continuing to speak, act, and hear about the issue, I like the odds of receiving the treat of immigration laws that work for America rather than more political tricks.
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!