SFIWJ and Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Monday, February 10, 2014

The year 2013 had many ups and downs for people who have waited expectantly for comprehensive immigration reform for a very long time. With Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) signed by President Obama in 2012, many young undocumented immigrants could finally pursue opportunities that they could have only dreamed of in the past. Although not perfect, the Senate passed Bill S. 744, otherwise known as the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act," in June of 2013, showing not only that immigration reform is crucial issue to our country but also that it is possible with bipartisan support. Nevertheless, many felt that this was not enough for countless separated families and millions of individuals who live in fear every day. All across the nation, many communities actively voiced their concerns about these families and issues of immigration reform through immigration marches, civil disobedience actions, and vigils with fasting and prayers.

South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice along with community partners campaigned vigorously for fair and comprehensive immigration reform. We hosted phone banking sessions, participated in direct actions urging target leaders (Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) to move legislation, and brainstormed ways to be more effective about our approach. When the House of Representative proposed Bill H.R. 15, which was very similar to the Senate Bill, many hoped that immigration reform could be discussed and moved forward. Ultimately, the hope of reform in 2013 died with much disappointment although our overall hopes continue. Tensions between the Republican Party and Democratic Party resulted in inaction that left tens of millions without a prospect for citizenship, a status that would have afforded them the security, opportunity, and impetus to become more productive members of our national fabric.

Despite the fact that immigration reform failed to pass in 2013, numerous community members and organizations including faith communities continue to stand firm in calling on our legislators to follow through with promises to fix our broken immigration system. SFIWJ has and will work towards compassionate and fair immigration reform that is not only practical and thoughtful, but also reflective of our moral values: embracing the stranger while raising the voices of a community who is often disenfranchised from the political process.