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Immigration Reform Supporters: “Positive Signs” Headed into 2014

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December 30, 2013

NEW YORK - Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform fell short of their goal in 2013, but several things happened in December to swing momentum in their direction, they say. The first positive sign, according to Jim Wallis, Sojourners president and founder, was the House and Senate working together to pass a budget bill.

And, while Speaker Boehner has said immigration reform would have to wait until next year, Wallis said there are signs Republicans are ready to act.

"I hear Republican leaders - Goodlatte from Judiciary - saying this will be a top priority in 2014," Wallis said. "John Boehner has hired a really talented aide to help with immigration - she knows the topic well, and she's for reform."

At his final 2013 news conference, President Obama called on House members to pass the immigration reform measure approved by the Senate, but Speaker Boehner has said he won't bring that version up for a vote.

Patty Kupfer, managing director, America's Voice, said key Republicans like Long Island Congressman Peter King either need to step up and co-sponsor the Senate-passed bill or reach across the aisle to a Democrat and craft a bill themselves.

"Peter King is probably one of about 40 Republicans who we see as critical to moving reform forward," Kupfer said, "and if they don't like what's on the table, they need to be able to produce something and say what they stand for."

Jim Wallis went without food for 10 days as part of the "Fast for Families," which took place across the street from the Capitol. He said he believes the fast helped reignite the movement for comprehensive reform by speaking to decision-makers on a spiritual level.

"When they heard stories they hadn't heard before - from ordinary people, undocumented people, about separation from their families - cabinet secretaries, senators, congresspeople, they came and they heard the stories, and I watched them cry. It was a powerful thing to see," Wallis said.

Wallis relieved one of the core group members who fasted for 22 days. He called that a small sacrifice compared to the hardships faced by immigrants and their families.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY