Bennet: Dysfunction can’t be excuse for not passing immigration reform

Sen. Michael Bennet speaks Sunday at a conference of the Inter American Press Association in Denver.

DENVER — Despite the nation’s “embarrassing and dysfunctional” government, Congress needs to approve immigration reform, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet told a gathering of journalists from North and South America on Sunday.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Inter American Press Association, the Democrat said the immigration bill he and the so-called Group of Eight, eight lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle, got through the U.S. Senate earlier this year needs to be taken up in the House.

“It’s too important for our country’s economic future for us to fail to pass this,” Bennet said. “This is a moment in time when we have to find a way to move past the dysfunction that was represented by this fiscal nonsense that we went through. It can’t be an excuse not passing immigration reform.”

The bill approved by the Senate in July creates a path to citizenship over the next 13 years for the estimated 11 million people who are living in the nation without proper residency documents.

At the same time, it provides for a beefed up border-security system, including nearly doubling the 20,000 U.S. Border Patrol workers and completing the 700-mile fence along the nation’s southern border.

The bill, which is estimated by the Congressional Budgeting Office to help shrink the federal deficit by about $900 billion, also requires all businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure they only hire workers who have legal residency.

As a result, it passed the Senate with support from all 54 Democrats and 14 Republicans.

Bennet said he’s willing to talk about changes to the bill, but doesn’t believe a piecemeal approach, as suggested by some members of the GOP-controlled U.S. House, will work.

“The White House gave us the principles that the president would support, and those principles we consistently embedded in our legislation,” he said. “They should take a similar approach in the House. (The Senate) doesn’t have a monopoly on wisdom, but what we can’t do is allow the House not to act. This bill would pass the House today if everybody could vote their conscience and their constituency.”


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Now that the “government shutdown” and the threat of “default” is at least temporarily behind us (until January 15 and/or February 13, 2014, respectively), it’s high time for the Daily Sentinel to renew its editorial call for comprehensive immigration reform (see:  “House GOP folds fate of immigrants, party”, June 30, 2013).

As Charles Ashby reported this morning (“Bennet: Dysfunction can’t be excuse for not passing immigration reform”), the Congressional Budget Office “scored” the legislation crafted by Senator Bennet (D-Colo.) and others – and passed by the Senate on June 27—as reducing future deficits by some $900 million ($200 million over the next decade, and $700 million over the following decade), even after doubling the number of boarder guards.  Of course, the Republican-controlled House has not yet even considered that bill.

One reason for the House’s inaction is the duplicity of “Tea Party” Repugnicans like Congressman Scott Tipton, who apparently told the Sentinel’s editors in June that “he supports immigration reform, but verifiable border security must be the first step”.

However, on September 5, 2013, as reported by Gary Harmon (“Tipton:  No reason to attack Syria”), Tipton told a packed “Town Meeting” audience in Delta that he opposes any “pathway to citizenship” (even for so-called “Dreamers”) – which is the essence of “comprehensive” immigration reform – but supports the piecemeal approach favored by Republicans and about which Bennet warned.

Instead, Tipton endorsed the “red card” scam – proffered by the Koch brothers’ American Legislative Exchange Council – cynically designed to shield scofflaw employers from criminal and/or civil liability for illegally hiring and exploiting undocumented workers.

Meanwhile, Tipton dutifully supported the shutdown (costing some $24 billion) and the threats of default (costing $300 billion and 900,000 jobs since 2011).  Thus, it’s past time for voters and the Sentinel’s editors to question Tipton’s dubious “conservative values”.

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