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.
Hoping to benefit from immigration reform?
Many are confused by media reports on the legislative process for immigration reform. This confusion is compounded by hope and advertisements posted by some who would like to wrongly profit from this hope. The office of Immigration Issues is urging those hoping to benefit from immigration reform to only work with experienced immigration lawyers or BIA accredited organizations. As of September 12, 2013, no reform has taken place, please review this statement from the Office (PDF) to learn more about the current state of 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.
The Senate passed a bill that would reform our nation's immigration laws, providing a pathway to citizenship for those already working and living in the U.S. However, that bill ties the pathway to citizenship to border measures and, according to Senator McCain, would make the Mexico/US border the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin wall. While a step forward for people who are present in the US without authorization, it places tremendous burden on border communities.
The National Immigration Law Center has published an analysis of SB744.
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.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WILL TAKE UP THE SAFE ACT
Rather than take up comprehensive immigration reform, the House has decided to take up immigration legislation in a piecemeal format. One piece of legislation they will be considering is the SAFE Act. This legislation is not "safe" and will increase racial profiling, expand detention, and criminalize immigrants. The SAFE Act (HR 2278) is not in-line with General Assembly policy on immigration reform. Contact your Representative and urge him/her to oppose the SAFE Act and instead support comprehensive immigration reform with a full pathway to citizenship that doesn't militarize our borders. Find out who represents you at www.house.gov and use the box in the upper right corner of the screen. Learn more by downloading this action alert in English or Spanish and then share it with your community.
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
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.).
The Rev. Ben Daniel has written a piece for the Thoughtful Christian on immigration legislation, New Immigration Bill: A Compromise?. The piece is available on the Thoughtful Christian website. The piece looks at the new immigration bill that Congress is considering. It examines how this new bill combines elements that are supported by both sides of the immigration debate and encourages participants to consider how immigration relates to their faith by studying the role of immigration in the Bible.
Staff from the office of Immigration Issues visited Presbyterians working and living along our southern border in Arizona last month. Read a reflection of the trip (PDF) and help understand why we cannot "throw the border under bus" during this reform debate.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) joins other faith organizations on June 24 in calling for the Senate to oppose the Corker-Hoeven Amendment (PDF) and to refocus on improving legislation to reform our nation's immigration laws.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) joins over 150 faith-based organizations in calling the House to reject the enforcement only legislation known as the SAFE Act.
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.