Bennet, Udall urge Obama to act on immigration reform
One year after the U.S. Senate approved a comprehensive immigration reform measure, it still sits in the House awaiting action, and Colorado’s two Democratic senators are tired of waiting.
That’s why U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet are calling on President Barack Obama to sidestep the Republican-controlled House and implement as much of the Senate version of immigration reform as he can through executive order.
“Our system is outdated, and because of an outdated system we hurt our economy and global competitiveness,” Udall said Friday.
“Unfortunately, the Republicans in the House have chosen to disregard the will of millions of Coloradans and Americans by choosing to ignore the issue, and then they turn around and blame immigrants, the president, Senate Democrats and anyone else who wants to solve the issue.”
In what was more of a campaign stop than official Senate business, Udall was joined by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., at a Denver press conference to highlight the anniversary of the Senate measure.
Gutierrez, one of the more outspoken proponents of immigration reform, called on Coloradans to re-elect Udall to the Senate, saying the nation needs lawmakers with proven records of pushing for comprehensive reform.
“If you allow the opponents of immigration reform to paint you as being for amnesty, you lose (re-election),” Gutierrez said.
“I’m not for amnesty, Mark Udall’s not for amnesty. We’re for fixing our broken immigration system.”
The bill creates a path toward 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 also is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to help shrink the federal deficit by about $900 billion, requires all businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure they only hire workers who have legal residency.
“The House has done absolutely nothing, and that’s unacceptable,” Bennet said.
“Each day the House drags its feet on immigration, our borders remain less secure, our visa system keeps us less competitive, our economy suffers, and millions of families remain in the shadows. Nowhere are those negative effects more acute than in Colorado, with our growing Latino population and strong agriculture, high-tech, and tourism industries.”
The bill passed the Senate with support from all 54 Democrats and 14 Republicans.
Because the measure has stalled in the House — piecemeal House measures have similarly been stalled in the Senate — Udall is calling on the president to implement some aspects of the bill, particularly when it comes to deportation of family members whose children were born in the U.S.
“We took such a step with the DREAMers, it’s now time to take that step when it comes to families,” Udall said. “It’s unconscionable we would split up families.”
Because the House in 2012 wouldn’t support the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act, Obama issued an executive order saying the government would not deport children who came into the U.S. with their parents, graduated from high schools here and want to stay to get a college education.