Immigration reform efforts stalled out in 2013 as lawmakers in Washington D.C. ended the year without resolving central issues. Border security, rules surrounding conditional pathways to citizenship and the update of visa categories were among the top policy points reform activists had hoped Congress would address in the past year.
Although reform looked promising at the beginning of 2013, Washington gridlock pushed immigration reform into 2014. The predicament for reform activists is likely surprising as supporters started the year with plenty of momentum on their side.
Addressing deportations President Obama authorized Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — a policy to help delay the deportation of undocumented youth known as “DREAMers” — in 2012. The policy, popular among the Hispanic and immigrant populations, contributed to the president receiving 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in the 2012 presidential election.
In the Senate, a bipartisan group of eight worked with leaders representing Latino advocacy and labor groups, farmers and Silicon Valley interests to develop and pass a comprehensive reform bill. When passed to the House of Representatives, however, the bill was stalled and is still awaiting a vote.
Still, the political tone of reform was clearly in the air over the past year. As Hispanic and Asian voters overwhelmingly embraced reform policies, the Republican National Committee re-evaluated its platform and announced its endorsement of immigration reform. The RNC also committed to a $10 million outreach campaign to immigrants and minorities, groups often said to be alienated from the Republican Party.
Despite the promising tones, bipartisan efforts toward comprehensive reform were scrapped before Congress adjourned in the fall. Part of the stalled reform effort can be attributed to the Affordable Care Act taking center stage.
Forcing the issue is a growing chorus of activists who are becoming more insistent for their cause to be heard. Filmmaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Antonio Vargas as well as business leaders and millions of DREAMers are among those activists zeroing in on lawmakers in a position to hold sway over the immigration reform debate.
As the calendar rolls over to 2014 and lawmakers prepare to return to Washington, immigration reform is one issue that will continue to receive plenty of attention over the year.