A project of the Center for Community Change

House Hears Immigration – FIRM brings you closer to the hill

I know how difficult it can be to keep track of the federal legislative process outside of DC. And with the recent twists and turns in the fight for comprehensive imimgraiton reform it has been particularly difficult for advocates across the country to be more engaged in the process. It can feel like things are changing each day and we have no way of keeping track of how power is shifting and what decisions are being made on our behalf.

FIRM has been working hard to bring you closer to the hill and we’re going to keep finding ways to give you  more access to the information you need. We’ve already been writing weekly legislative updates (that you can find in the CIR tag on the left) and we’ve got some useful community education materials and analyses HERE. If there are more materials you’d like to see, send us an email and we’ll do our best to meet your requests – nwells@communitychange.org.

Today, I’m happy to finally have the chance to sit and write about the congressional hearings on immigration reform that we’ve been attending for the last few weeks in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration.

The House Subcommittee on Immigration, led by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA), has been conducting hearings on immigration reform twice a week for the last month in anticipation of the House floor debate on CIR coming (hopefully) in June. FIRM has been attending each of these hearings to keep the community presence strong and to keep our message (printed on t-shirts we are wearing) front and center before the committee: Time is Now- Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

As I’ve been sitting through the hearings I’ve listened to a whole host of experts discuss everything from the need for employer verification requirements, to Hagel’s point system proposal and the use of the point system in Australia and Canada, to the importance of immigrants to our economy. There have been few surprise testimonies, these hearings have been well orchestrated to support a progressive and fair immigration reform bill.

The highlight of the hearings for me has been listening to the questions that representatives have chosen to ask of the well choreographed speakers. While interrogating Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Representative Waters squarely noted that immigrant family unity is a high priority for CIR and that we should not advocate a system that tears families apart, like the raids are currently doing. Rep. Ellison seconded this line of questioning. During the hearing on employment verification Rep. Jackson-Lee made a point of recognizing the atrocities of raids on families across the country.

Hearing testimony like that reminds me that some of our leaders in congress haven’t forgotten what is going on outside the capitol. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough.

We need a hearing on what really matters in the immigration reform debate: families, children and the communities that are most affected by this legislation. As the experts, senators, and representatives come before Congress to testify, I am left asking- where are the communities? Where is the opportunity for us to make our concerns known before the committee that will decide our future.

Though many in Congress are working hard for bi-partisan compromises for CIR, we must not loose sight of the heart of our movement. That is why FIRM is organizing a Children’s Hearing in Washington, DC to bring the voices of families affected by the raids before a panel of national and international leaders for human and children’s rights. We will have the people lift their voice for immigration reform in DC and it’s happening on May 17th. For more information go HERE

I’ll continue to attend these hearing for the next few weeks and there will be more reflections to come- but for now, Id lvoe to hear how YOU think things are going in the fight for CIR- do you think we’ll get comprehensive immigration reform this year?

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