A New Urgency on Immigration Reform

Rev. Noel Andersen | May 1, 2013

Immigration reform supporters gathered outside a U.S. Senate office building in Washington, D.C., during an Ash Wednesday vigil. Photo: Noel Andersen/CWS

Immigration reform supporters gathered outside a U.S. Senate office building in Washington, D.C., during an Ash Wednesday vigil. Photo: Noel Andersen/CWS

Three years ago, faith leaders from CWS member denominations gathered with DREAMers outside the Capital to pray with them as they cried. The DREAM Act momentarily broken after the Senate filibuster in 2010, another DREAM delayed after also failing to get a comprehensive immigration reform bill off the ground in Congress in 2009.

2013 is different. With the winds of the elections and the power of the Latino vote demonstrated in full effect, policy makers have a new urgency on immigration reform.

Many organizations across the spectrum agree the Senate bipartisan bill, S. 744, Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, is the best version of immigration reform we have seen in recent history. CWS has helped coordinate the Interfaith Immigration Coalition advocacy efforts to make this moment of reform a reality and bring 11 million aspiring citizens out of the shadows and into a process of legalization and eventual citizenship.

CWS, along with our partners, applaud the Senate bipartisan effort to draft this bill that provides a pathway to citizenship and demonstrates tremendous progress. However, it is clearly a compromise between parties, leaving many points for improvement. The CWS statement on S.744 highlights the positive changes to current immigration and refugee policy, while noting the multiple points that could use improvement during the amendment process as S.744 moves through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

CWS will be working to mobilize our base of advocates to press the Judiciary Committee for the best amendments possible following the general framework of the below:

  1. Expanding eligibility and accessibility to the pathway to citizenship through extending the time frame and assuring attainable goals for the “trigger” mechanism tied to security implementation.
  2. Protect Refugee Resettlement provisions, currently part of S.744, which improve the efficiency of the asylum process, increases an integration focus, provides conditional lawful status for stateless persons and allows more opportunity for refugee family reunification.
  3. Prioritize Family Unity supporting provisions that expand family reunification capacity for spouses and young children, but changing the provisions in S. 744 that would keep U.S. citizens from sponsoring their siblings and married children over 30.

CWS will also be supporting partner organizations’ amendment efforts to keep the diversity visa, minimize border militarization and improve access to the pathway to citizenship in terms of employment requirements. Together with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition we will be holding call-in days, coordinating advocacy meetings with judiciary committee staff and hosting vigils with faith leaders outside of the senate committee amendment hearings.

Get ready and be prepared to advocate for the best amendments possible on the mornings of May 9, 14, 16, and 20-24th to make S.744 an even better bill.

You can call 1-866-940-2439 on each of those days for an update on what amendments will be offered and to be directly connected with your Senators’ offices. If that number presents problems, you can also connect with your Senators’ offices by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Rev. Noel Andersen, Grassroots Coordinator for Immigrants’ Rights