Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bipartisan Immigration Bill Passes Senate Judiciary Committee

Before Senators go on break for the Memorial Day recess, immigrant families and faith leaders visited key Senators’ offices to deliver collections of photos and personal stories of how families have been separated and affected by our immigration system. This comes after Tuesday’s bipartisan vote of 13-5 in the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass the Senate’s immigration bill unto the full Senate floor. During the almost two weeks of mark-up, the Senate Judiciary Committee considered more than 200 amendments. Now, the bill will be sent to the full floor for more debate and a final vote. The collection of personal stories were delivered as a way to keep Senators connected to some of the families that will be directly impacted by their decisions and to remind them that immigration reform is necessary.

During the amendment process, the interfaith community made more than 3,000 calls to the Senate Judiciary Committee members. Our voices made a big difference in gaining modest improvements to the bill and in defeating some of the worst amendments. Positive amendments that were won will help immigrants in detention by restricting the use of solitary confinement, Violence Against Women Act recipients and children. They will also prohibit dangerous deportations, discourage racial profiling and will restrict immigration enforcement actions near schools, hospitals, victims’ services locations and places of worship. Individuals will also be allowed to pay fines in installments thus somewhat lessening the burden of the high penalties and fees required for legalization.

Starting next week, Senators will be at home for a short recess. When the bill is introduced to the full Senate floor in early June, Senators will have an opportunity to introduce new amendments. We need to be ready and willing to continue to powerfully advocate for laws that reflect our values and the PC (U.S.A)'s General Assembly priorities. We are all children of God, members of one people and we must love and welcome each other and strive to live in peace, in justice, and in love. If you’d like to visit with your Senators and Representative during their recess to speak to them about immigration reform check out the resources provided by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition for ideas on how to do so.