Immigration Reform Debate 2013
The Office of Immigration Issues will update this page as new proposals and developments are available on immigration reform. We will feature proposed legislation, relevant articles, and links to timely reports on matters related to immigration. Now, while proposals are still developing, is the best time to advocate for what you believe will make for a just and commonsense immigration plan for our country. Please download our Tool Kit (available in English and Spanish) on Immigration Reform and start educating your community about the need for reform.
Immigration reform was discussed in Congress in 2005-2007 but no action was taken. The Congressional Research Service published a report in February 2013, which gives an overview of those efforts. Access Brief History of Comprehensive Immigration Reform Efforts in the 109th and 110th Congresses to Inform Policy Discussions in the 113th Congress to learn more about those efforts and what they mean for our current debate.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association has published a resource guide to assist law makers and advocates during the immigration debate. Please download a copy (PDF) and use it to inform the language you use to describe the need for reform.
Stakeholders help Congress inch closer to a reform deal
AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce announced late February 21 agreement on a possible guest worker program. Read more about the agreement and what it could mean for reform negations.
Gang of 8
In the weeks following the 2012 Presidential Election, 8 Senators – four republicans and four democrats – were appointed to develop a plan for moving forward on immigration reform. On January 28, 2013 the Senators held a press conference and announced they had reached a deal for a blueprint on the four basic legislative pillars.
Review their four page document, Bipartisan Framework for comprehensive Immigration Reform.
The Senators plan is quite broad, it is facing some criticism but though most praise the Senators work on brining attention and action to our broken immigration system. Please see the following articles for discussion: Senators Call Immigration Proposal A Major Breakthrough. Bill Moyers offered a critique of the Senators' plan. FactCheck.org weighed in on the debate and did a fact check of the Senators' plan.
The Senators' plan includes a call for "triggers" that would set forth criteria for border security in order to move forward on a legalization plan. This article describes this aspect of the legislative pillars and discusses who opposes or supports such triggers.
Former Governor Jeb Bush released his book on immigration reform and shocked the public when he came out against a pathway to citizenship for those already working and living in the United States, opting for a "pathway to legalization." This was a reversal of his position that supported citizenship. However, the Gang of 8 working on reform have signaled they are moving forward with a proposal for legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship.
In the cover story in the latest edition of The American Prospect magazine¸ Migration Policy Institute President Demetrios Papademetriou tackles some of the major challenges Congress must resolve if it is to create an immigration system in the national interest — now and for the future.
On Tuesday April 16 the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act’’ was introduced in the Senate. An article about the legislation introduction is available from Reuters, NBC Latino, and the Washington Post. The text of the bill was made available early Wednesday morning. See the text of the legislation here, Senator Schumer's website. The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) issued a statement about the movement of this legislation.
View a summary of the 844 page bill (PDF) from Alliance for Citizenship.
The Migration Policy Institute has created a side-by-side comparison (PDF) of legislation in the Senate to past reform proposals.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy, prominent faith leaders from across the country are reaffirming their commitment to pass comprehensive immigration reform and a roadmap to citizenship in 2013. While religious leaders agree that the proposal put forth by the Senate Gang of 8 is not perfect, the faith community stands united and committed to working through the upcoming legislative process.
Read the various statements.
The Presbytery of Boston has written a letter to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. You can read the letter here (PDF).
The President's Proposal
Rev. Patricia de Jong of Church World Service was at the speech and wrote this Pastoral Response to President Obama's speech.
The Obama Administration has created a new website to further explain his proposal on immigration reform.
USA Today obtained a leaked copy of the President's "back up" proposal for immigration reform legislation.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association has completed a section by section analysis (PDF) of the President's plan.
The Miami Herald published sections from the President's leaked plan, to view them use the links under President Obama's photo on the left at this link.
The House of Representatives
Less than a week after the Senate and the President released their statements on immigration, reports began to surface about a group of House members had been secretly meeting for several years to develop an immigration proposal.The media reports that the House is close to an agreement on reform.
Migration Policy Institute (MPI) March 2013 issue brief report examining (PDF) who is in the immigration "line," what are the various visa categories involved in family- and employment-based immigration, wait times, countries most affected by the backlogs, and more.
What you need to know about the Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986
The Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986 (ICRA) was the first and only time that there has been a mass legalization program in the US for individuals who were present without authorization. This program was adopted under President Reagan as the country was emerging from a recession.
- Report on lessons to learn from the 1986 law.
- Series of articles on immigrants who benefited from the program.
- The Migration Policy Institute has created a fact sheet on the economics of reform.
- The Economic Benefits of Comprehensive Immigration Reform for the CATO institute. An ABC article analyzes this report and another by the Public Policy Institute of California.
People of faith and reform
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has long supported comprehensive reform of our nation's immigration laws. The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly has issued two pastoral letters on reform. This letter from the Stated Clerk and The Reuniting Families Act.
Conservative Christians make the case for immigration reform.
Sojourners has published a list of shared principles for immigration reform.
In a recent article in Unbound, staff at the Office of Immigration Issues discuss citizenship as an integral part of immigration reform and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) policy on citizenship.
People of faith are leading the effort to reform our nation's immigration laws. The Center for American Progress published an article on recent statements and activities by people of faith. The article addresses a recent statement by the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Immigration reform and the impact on women and children
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing entitled “How Comprehensive Immigration Reform Should Address the Needs of Women and Families” for Monday, March 18, 2013 at 2:00 p.m., in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. View the webcast.