Despite a major push from immigrant advocates, it appears that immigration reform could be taking a backseat to other issues that now have Congress' attention. With lawmakers focusing on whether to take military action in Syria as well as the government's spending limit, some political experts say that immigration reform could be placed on the back-burner until the end of the year or later.
Immigrant advocates pushing for a path to citizenship for millions of people who are currently living in the country illegally hoped that campaigning done over the August congressional recess would have convinced lawmakers to make immigration reform a top priority. However, as so often is the case in Washington, other issues have stolen the focus.
“Families in our communities are being ripped apart by deportations, and the system is in chaos,” said the director of Catholic Social Action for the Cincinnati Archdiocese, which recently helped to organize a large Mass dedicated to the issue. “A vote for delay is a vote for crisis and disorder in the current system.”
Although the U.S. Senate was able to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill this summer, the issue has been much more contested in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The most debated issues center on the path to citizenship and tightening border security.
Many Republicans in the House believe that the Senate's bill, which approves a pathway to citizenship while at the same time tightening border security, is too kind to immigrants who entered the country illegally.
Even though some momentum appears to be lost, immigrant advocates say they are not giving up. Several organizations plan to hold rallies across the country as well as a march on Washington in early October in effort to convince the lawmakers to hold a vote on the issue by the end of the year.
“We believe they can walk and chew gum at the same time,” said the leader of the immigration campaign for the Service Employees International Union. “The more they delay, the worse it will be for them.”
Source: The New York Times, "Immigration Reform Falls to the Back of the Line," Michael D. Shear and Julia Preston, Sept. 8, 2013