Immigration reform efforts are reaching a critical time as we near the end of 2013 and with the turn of the calendar a congressional midterm election year is looming.
Only 16 days remain on the 2013 legislative calendar and the federal budget is a portentous issue. If the House does not vote on immigration reform, does this mean the issue is done-for in the immediate future? Would the non-passage of a reform bill be good or bad in the grand scheme of things? There is always the piece-meal route to reform.
It seems that with each passing week the momentum for reform sways like leaves blowing in the autumn breeze. One week the news reports that immigration reform is dead. The following week it is back on life support.
Last week nearly 600 supporters of reform were in Washington, D.C., for an event that was sponsored by the Partnership for a New American Economy, the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network, FWD.us and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Local advocates also traveled to D.C. with these groups, lobbying Congress to make a pressing push for the passage of a bill by year’s end.
Internal political pressure seems to be making some headway as well as a few House members, who previously did not support a comprehensive bill that includes a path to citizenship, are now in favor of it.
The stakes are high as a recent study by the Bipartisan Policy Center shows that passing a bill, which includes a path to citizenship for the nearly 11.7 million undocumented, would increase U.S. economic growth the next 20 years by 4.8 percent, and reduce deficits by $1.2 trillion.
On the other hand, there are concerns about the border security measures and the costs of implementing them. Any border security measures, whether passed into law via smaller bills or part of a larger one, would have a significant impact on the Southern Arizona region. Our congressional leadership needs to find a happy medium and compromise on some of these thornier issues.
Monday, a symposium with three national experts on immigration policy will update the community on the status of the immigration reform legislation and where things appear to be heading. The event brings to Tucson: Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy for the Center for American Progress; Jeanne Butterfield, special counsel with the Raben Group; and Ben Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council.
As a Southern border state, Arizona has much to either gain or lose by the passage of an immigration bill. It is a debate that will continue to persist in our community well beyond 2013. The community should have a fruitful discussion on this issue and the symposium is an opportunity for Arizonans to come and ask questions of leaders and experts on the subject of immigration policy.
Many questions remain as to how an immigration bill will ultimately look when signed into law.
No one will be 100 percent happy with the end version of this bill, as most people are not happy with the broken immigration system that currently burdens the United States.
What we don’t know is whether the reform winds of change will shift to a different direction.
We will likely learn more about which direction the D.C. reform winds are blowing on Monday night.