Momentum Building on Immigration Reform

By Ivone Guillen 2-06-2013

In case you’ve missed the news surrounding immigration reform, here’s a brief update.

Last week, a bipartisan group of eight Senators unveiled a set of principles in support of immigration reform. The following day, President Barack Obama spoke at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas., where he released his proposal for a commonsense solution for immigration reform. Both parties see the moral and political need to address this issue.

President Obama is keeping up the pressure as he continues dialogue with numerous stakeholders to highlight the broad support for reform. On Tuesday he met with numerous external leaders hosting two separate meetings at the White House — one with progressive and labor leaders and the other with leaders from the business community — to discuss his continued support for an immigration reform package he hopes will pass this year.

“We are very clear that within the next month to month-and-a-half we need to see legislation and we are sending this message to everyone on the Hill as well,” said Marielena Hincapie, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center, after spending an hour with the president. 

The House also met on the issue, holding its first hearing on immigration on Tuesday with a panel that focused on high-tech industry visas and border enforcement. Many who listened in wondered if the committee was really addressing the pressing need at hand — the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

Representative Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, acknowledged in his opening statement that the current system is in desperate need of repair. But he cautioned that it will take time to find a solution and that it is best not to rush to judgment. Goodlatte said he prefers taking a piecemeal approach in solving the issue.

Other representatives on the panel pushed back, saying that the issue needs to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner, otherwise it can become distorted.

Since many House conservatives have publicly opposed to immigration reform in the past, Speaker John Boehner will need to lead, push, and persuade his caucus to compromise on the issue or risk the political consequences of obstruction. His own recent statement gives signs of hope. 

“This is about trying to get it right on behalf of the American people and those who are suffering under an immigration system that doesn’t work very well for anybody,” Boehner said.

Rarely do such diverse groups of people find so much common ground on issues.

The faith community is also united, as seen by the work of the Evangelical Immigration Table, immigration’s latest ally.

The country is ready, the only question is whether Washington will step up and enact a commonsense solution for the common good of the American people.  


Ivone Guillen is Sojourners' Immigration Campaigns and Communications Associate.


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