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Giving thanks for a new hope for immigrants

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Washington, DC – Below is a column by Maribel Hastings from America’s Voice en Español translated in English and Spanish. 

Just as in 2013, a ray of hope for millions of undocumented immigrants is surging, following the House of Representatives’ approval of a massive social spending bill that includes an immigration plan. In this case, it is a plan that would offer undocumented immigrants temporary documents, expiring in ten years, which would protect them from deportation and allow them to travel to their countries of origin—without fear of being deported upon return.    

Now this measure advances to the Senate, where its prospects are more complicated due to the tight margin of the Democratic majority. “Complicated” because there are two senators from this party, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who are not completely convinced about some aspects of the bill, and because the Senate Parliamentarian is the one who will decide if the House’s immigration language will remain in the Senate version.   

In 2013, the Democratic Senate approved a broad immigration reform plan that the House of Representatives, under Republican control, never brought to the floor. I remember for Thanksgiving that year, I wrote an op-ed giving thanks because there was the hope for reform, although ultimately it did not come to pass.

I see parallels now because one of the chambers approved a measure, but its future in the other chamber—in this case the Senate—is uncertain.  

However, because it is Thanksgiving week, I won’t allow my cynicism to consume me and will pray for something to solidify.

Although it is not the path to citizenship that undocumented immigrants deserve, it is an important first step. At least 6.5 million undocumented immigrants would benefit, and according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), of those 6.5 million, at least 3 million could advance at some point from their temporary status to permanent residency, the step before citizenship. 

The language is not perfect, but neither is the status of millions of people today, who have spent decades waiting for a solution. 

The column I wrote in 2013 was called “Thanksgiving of Hope,” and please allow me to reproduce some segments below, because there are things that have not changed. 

I continue to give thanks for being part of a movement that defends a just and necessary cause, and for being part of a fight that has allowed me to see the good and bad sides of humanity. Goodness prevails. 

I continue to give thanks for having known immigrants who offer life lessons every day, confronting all sorts of vicissitudes, including the daily possibility that their families would be divided. To that I would add that they keep going forward, although the promises of politicians never concretize. That is why I continue to express my gratitude for having taught me the meaning of perseverance in the face of adversity and for living out that saying, “pick yourself up by your bootstraps.”

I continue to give thanks to so many leaders who have fought relentlessly for immigration reform, for decades. They are an example of constancy and optimism. 

I give thanks because, no matter what happens, this fight for a just immigration reform will continue. 

They say that hope is the last thing one loses, so this Thursday I will give thanks for that hope.

Read the Spanish version of this column here.