Gardner, Bennet team up to cosponsor DREAM Act to protect DACA recipients

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September 6, 2017, 6:46 am

More bipartisanship wafted out of Colorado toward Washington on Tuesday, like so much smoke from western wildfires. But will it matter for DACA recipients who saw their dreams of citizenship go up in Trump administration smoke on Tuesday?

Cory_Gardner_official_Senate_portrait.jpeg

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner

Just like Govs. John Hickenlooper and John Kasich crossed the aisle last week on healthcare, Colorado Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet joined hands on DACA on Tuesday, cosponsoring the DREAM Act to protect from deportation and provide a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Gardner, a Republican and longtime DACA opponent, did a 360 after overwhelming condemnation of the Trump administration’s decision on Tuesday not to defend the program against legal challenges from GOP hardline immigration attorney generals in 10 red states. The administration essentially gave Congress six months to protect Dreamers — more than 17,000 of them in Colorado — legislatively.

“Children who came to this country without documentation, through no fault of their own, must have the opportunity to remain here lawfully,” Gardner said in a release. “I’m proud to join with Sen. Bennet and cosponsor the Dream Act to provide certainty to the thousands of law-abiding Coloradan Dreamers and demonstrate bipartisan leadership on this important issue. I have long called for an overhaul of our country’s immigration system and believe this is an important step. I will continue to work with Sen. Bennet and our colleagues in the Senate to move this bill forward into law.”

michael bennet

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet

Bennet, a Democrat who in 2013 was part of the Gang of Eight senators who successfully passed an immigration reform bill in the Senate — only to see it die at the hands of then-Speaker John Boehner in the House — was waiting for another Republican to sign onto the Dream Act so he could add his name.

“The Dream Act offers a promising solution amid a time of uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants around the country—especially in light of the president’s decision [Tuesday] to rescind DACA,” Bennet said.While comprehensive immigration reform should remain a long-term solution, we also need a more immediate fix to protect Dreamers. I have long supported legislation that makes clear what we already know: supporting Dreamers boosts our economy, strengthens our national security, and aligns with our values. Congress must move quickly to pass this legislation.”

But just like in 2013, getting the DREAM Act out of the Senate may not be the hard part. The bill faces a much tougher test in the House, where it would likely be tied to a broader immigration-security package, including possible funding for President Donald Trump’s ubiquitous border-wall campaign promise.

Immigration hawks like Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton seem unlikely to back a DACA-only reprieve. telling the Denver Post better border security was also a top priority. However, Tipton also released this official statement on Tuesday:

“President Obama circumvented the Constitution when he unilaterally created the DACA program without going through the legislative process [in 2012],” Tipton said. “[Tuesday’s] announcement by Attorney General Sessions shows this administration’s commitment to the rule of law. While I do not support the unilateral DACA program, I believe Congress must act to develop a compassionate and commonsense solution for the children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents. These individuals have grown up in the United States and are now upstanding, valued members of our communities. They should not be punished for a decision that was made by their parents years ago.”

The Trump administration on Tuesday, via Attorney General Jeff Sessions, declared the DACA program implemented by a 2012 executive order from former President Barack Obama “unconstitutional” and announced it will end it in six months — essentially punting the issue to Congress to come up with a legislative fix to protect “Dreamers” from deportation.

Dreamers are immigrants whose parents brought them to the United States illegally at a very young age. They have registered with the federal government, stayed out of legal trouble, worked, studied, paid taxes and contributed to their communities. RealVail.com profiled one such Dreamer in Eagle County, Alex Trujillo, in an article the Vail Daily published over the Labor Day weekend.

President Donald Trump had previously promised to “show great heart” in dealing with DACA.

Public pressure will be needed to get a largely gridlocked, Republican-controlled Congress to act in time (see the full list of Colorado lawmakers, with contact information, below). Any bill to save DACA will now likely be tied to increased internal immigration security and possibly even funding for Trump’s border wall with Mexico.

Colorado lawmaker reaction to Tuesday’s decision was swift and scorching. Colorado Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, a Democrat, put out this statement:

“President Trump has called the 800,000 Dreamers ‘really incredible kids’ and he publicly assured them that they could ‘rest easy.’ But now, in a cruel and cynical reversal that puts the president squarely on the wrong side of history, the administration has declared that it will end the DACA program.

“17,000 Colorado Dreamers are now at risk of having their lives uprooted and being separated from their loved ones. But this issue affects all Coloradans. Those 17,000 Dreamers contribute more than $800 million to Colorado’s economy. Most of all, this is an issue of basic humanity. Dreamers were brought here as children, grew up and went to school and built their lives here, and are Americans in every sense but their documentation. They are living — and contributing to — the American Dream. They should be allowed to stay, and I call on Congress to create a viable path for them to gain citizenship.​”

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat whose district extends into the Colorado high country, issued this statement:

“Today I am outraged that more than 17,000 Coloradans, who I consider my fellow Americans, got the news that their lives have dramatically altered by a callous and short-sighted decision of our president.  By ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, President Trump has cast nearly one million aspiring Americans back into the shadows,” said Polis.

“The situation is dire. These aspiring Americans belong here, and they should have the ability to use their talents and pursue their dreams.  I have had the honor of meeting and getting to know inspiring dreamers like Oscar, a dreamer who attended President Trump’s first State of the Union with me and wants to serve his country in our military if only we will let him; and Brithany, a CSU student who is active in her community by working as a nurse assistant in a dementia ward; as well as many many other dreamers who I will advocate for in Congress.   It is past time for Congress to rise to the occasion, and do its job by creating a permanent solution to help this population, and that is why I will continue to advocate for the American Hope Act or other legislation to create a permanent way out of the shadows for Brithany, Oscar, and so many others whose stories are just as inspiring.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, issued this statement:

“Colorado has always been a place where people can determine their destiny. The DACA program provides thousands of young people the opportunity to do just that. President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program unnecessarily jeopardizes the futures of more than 17,000 Coloradans. We strongly encourage Colorado’s congressional delegation to support the passage of the Dream Act, ensuring that Dreamers can continue making contributions to the only country they’ve ever called home. We will not turn our back on these young people and neither should our country.”

According to USA.gov (https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials/) here’s how you can contact Colorado’s congressional delegation:

Senate

Michael Bennet, Democrat

261 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5852

Contact: www.bennet.senate.gov/?p=contact

 Cory Gardner, Republican

354 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5941

Contact: www.gardner.senate.gov/contact-cory/email-cory

House of Representatives

District 1 – Diane DeGette, Democrat

2111 Rayburn House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-4431

Contact: https://degette.house.gov/contact

District 2 – Jared Polis, Democrat

1727 Longworth House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-2161

Contact: https://polis.house.gov/contact/

District 3 – Scott Tipton, Republican

218 Cannon House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-4761

Contact: https://tipton.house.gov/contact/email

District 4 – Ken Buck, Republican

1130 Longworth House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-4676

Contact: https://buck.house.gov/contact

District 5 – Doug Lamborn, Republican2402 Rayburn House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-4422

Contact: https://lamborn.house.gov/contact/

District 6 – Mike Coffman, Republican

2443 Rayburn House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-7882

Contacts: https://coffman.house.gov/contact/

District 7 – Ed Perlmutter, Democrat

1410 Longworth House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-2645

Contacts: https://perlmutter.house.gov/forms/writeyourrep/

 

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David O. Williams
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, SKI Magazine, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), Ski Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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