A Heavy Step Forward on Immigration Reform

June 27, 2013 –

Florida New Majority released the following statement from Executive Director Gihan Perera on the Thursday passage of the U.S. Senate’s immigration bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), by a vote of 68 to 32.

“This is a bittersweet moment. A cause for some celebration because one of the hardest steps in the legislative process –overcoming the threat of filibuster in the Senate –has momentarily passed.

But at what cost? The implementation of a military solution on the border that only feeds the continued criminalization of immigrant communities on both sides before triggering a narrow, long pathway to citizenship seems like a high price to be paid for immigration reform. At present, it is bill that risks leaving too many, including our LBGTQ loved ones, out on the doorsteps of the American Dream.

With the story of the two other steps –the House debate and the final Conference committee –yet to be told, it’s still too early to know the full cost, and  whether the path laid out in this bill will be one of full citizenship or institutional marginalization.

One thing is certain. We would not have gotten immigration reform past the Senate without the millions and millions of calls, rallies, letters, online actions and other forms of advocacy of America’s new majority. The effort and resolve of thousands of faith, student, labor, and community groups helped galvanize legislators and push this Senate to pass the compromise bill.

The fight is not over. It will be even harder in the House. Many of us already feel tired. Some feel defeated, even betrayed.  Yet we know that this is the time to dig in. We know that we must simultaneously push this bill to the best possible resolution AND fight the militarization, deportations, and second class citizenship that will be put up as the price to pay.

Yes, a better bill should have passed.  Yet at the end of the day, we will shepherd it through because it is a bill that still keeps the door of hope open. A bill that brings us closer to the new day when more than 11 million of our brothers and sisters can come out of the shadows to live and work without fear of deportation or detention.