Putting the ‘I’ in immigration reform

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AURORA | When President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of Congress next week, his request to pass comprehensive immigration reform won’t be a surprise for any of the House Republican leaders. For weeks now, House and Senate top dogs have prepared for the specter that patience is at an end for many Americans who were promised immigration reform years ago by the current presidential administration and congressional representatives. For Colorado’s third-largest city, with more than 90 languages spoken and the state’s most-diverse populace, it’ll be another call in a long list of demands to address what many Aurora residents already know: immigration reform is a long, complicated, costly and cumbersome process. 

Congress is gearing up for a fight in the House over comprehensive immigration reform, and battleground candidates and representatives from Aurora’s congressional race have become increasingly important. It’s not enough that Colorado’s 6th Congressional District has been forecast as one of the most contentious races in the U.S. The district also includes Colorado’s most diverse city and one of the state’s largest number of immigrants. Congressman Mike Coffman, who has been an outspoken opponent of the administration’s plan for immigration in the past — and the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill — has shifted positions in the last 12 months. Andrew Romanoff, who is challenging Coffman in November, once led the state Legislature through a special session in 2006 that passed some of “the toughest immigration laws” in the country at the time, according to the Washington Post.

“Both of them, at various points, have gotten crosswise with advocates for immigration,” said Floyd Ciruli, a political expert based in Denver. “No one has a clear record.”

For Aurora and its congressional race, that could be a major point of derision for the candidates.

“That’s perhaps the most salient point here, that it could be a wash for both,” Ciruli said. “Those comments last as long as it takes for someone to put it in a commercial, and I’m assuming both will.”

For Romanoff, his time at the state Legislature and as speaker of the House could make him vulnerable. In 2006, as Gov. Bill Owens was preparing to leave office, Owens called a special session to address immigration after a state Supreme Court ruling pushed off the ballot a question that would have prohibited public benefits — such as hospital visits and food stamps — to illegal immigrants. As speaker, Romanoff presided over the Democratically controlled legislature tasked with passing immigration reform without being punitive.

“What I said in 2006 and since is that no state, including Colorado, can be a substitute for what we need at a federal level. What a lot of Coloradans and Americans know, and say, is that they’re frustrated now more than they’ve ever been,” Romanoff said.

The Legislature passed a series of bills coming down hard on undocumented immigrants at the time, including denying non-emergency state benefits to adults who couldn’t prove residency. Romanoff said the package of Colorado bills “got more done on this issue in five days than Congress has managed in two decades,” Romanoff told USA Today.

Romanoff echoes that sentiment, but he said that calling the immigration laws tough was unfair.

“That’s not an accurate description when you look at what was passed at the time,” he said. Instead Romanoff points to a joint resolution — which has no legislative power — passed out of that session that called on Congress to pass federal immigration reform.

“We often get the same response to that (resolution) as letters to Santa: You get no response,” Romanoff said. “If we can figure this out in Colorado, surely we can figure it out in Congress. I don’t think some folks in Congress are interested in compromise.”

Coffman, who recently introduced a House resolution that would provide a pathway to citizenship for youth enlisted in the military, agreed with Romanoff’s assessment of a division in the House.

Factions on the right and left say they’re not interested in compromise when it comes to immigration. Some in his party view any deal as “amnesty,” while some Democrats would rather see an “all or nothing” approach to immigration.

“I think there has to be a path in the middle,” said Coffman. “I’m encouraged, I’m more optimistic than I was before that something more comprehensive will be done. There’s more give on both sides now than there has been though.”

Specifically, that means support on both sides for main tenets of the Senate bill: secure borders, a path to citizenship for adults and a easier process for youth to become citizens. However, that could be one of Coffman’s difficulties in attracting Latino voters, who have heard Coffman in the past call for tougher immigration measures. Specifically, in 2011, Coffman co-sponsored a House bill to end birthright citizenship. In 2013, Coffman withdrew his co-sponsorship of that measure. A congressional spokesman said Coffman may have shifted, but wouldn’t answer directly if Coffman had changed his mind.

“Mike is working hard to push for common sense fixes to America’s broken immigration system,” said Clay Sutton, spokesman for Coffman, in a statment. “The district changed, and Mike is doing his best to listen to the people who entrusted him to represent them.”

In June 2013, Coffman voted alongside other House Republicans to defund a key program in the Obama administration’s plan for young immigrants. Coffman joined Colorado and House Republicans in voting to lift the executive order for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status. Coffman’s plan for military service as a path to citizenship for enlisted military members relies first on the applicant to receive DACA status.

“I think that what the president … did exceeded the boundaries of the Constitution,” Coffman said. “These things have no basis in law and the President doesn’t have the ability to legislate.”

Romanoff says having a problem with how something is done rather than what it does isn’t helpful in solving the issue of immigration.

“That’s not credible,” he said. “Let’s take them at their word then. If you don’t like it, come up with a better solution if you’re serious about this.”

Coffman has his own views likely to surface in November.

“Our backgrounds reflect our philosophies, and as (Romanoff) surfaces and becomes more visible I think that those differences will emerge,” Coffman said.

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TimPrestki
TimPrestki
9 years ago

The TIME IS NOW..!! Lets fix the current broken immigration system in US.
I’m the fourth generation in this great country… I don’t see why not give a change to some of the undocumented people that loves this country same as you and I do.

Brian Williams
Brian Williams
9 years ago

Amnesty for tens of millions of dirt poor, uneducated, unskilled, 3rd world, criminal illegal aliens will destroy the US economy, and cause 19 TRILLION dollars in new TAXES on the struggling American middle class. With 25 million jobless Americans, it is cruel and inhumane to our families to allow 33 million criminal illegals to get legalization amnesty.

Mike
Mike
9 years ago
Reply to  Brian Williams

“Amnesty for tens of millions of dirt poor, uneducated, unskilled, 3rd
world, criminal illegal aliens will destroy the US economy, and cause
19 TRILLION dollars in new TAXES on the struggling American middle
class.” are you out of your mind ……
, Illegals” make your life better people, if it wasn’t for
them,you will not have a clean hotel room , our farms will just rot litterally by it self , like its happening now in Alabama. ,
, you would have to pay a lot of money for fruits and vegetables, gardens and lawns will over grow with no help
to maintain , Metropolitan cities will have a huge impact with no one to take care of Restaurant and Hotels to do
the side jobs , like washing dishes and cleaning out ,not to forget the legal immigrants who are stuck with immigration
issues like the Tech industry is facing right now,Silicon Valley alone has over 8000 openings that can not
be filled because , immigrant IT grads can’t get their Visa’s Extended or find sponsors ..and do not forget people Immigrants
started almost half of our Fortune 500 companies in the US and they still strive to full extent helping each and everyone in our
country for and many others services,we all benefit from undocumented immigrants directly or indirectly,
now your gonna say you don’t need them..? & want them out of the country..??
Yeah right, I’d like to see that…. Stop blaming the illegals for your miserable life…! !!!
https://www.upworthy.com/if-immigrants-scare-you-then-heres-3-simple-facts-to-calm-your-panicked-brain-111111117?c=ufb1

jmfay
jmfay
9 years ago
Reply to  Mike

All those illegals use alot more in services then they pay in taxes and fees. They also take alot of jobs away from our own and reduce out pay when we work in the same fields.

What happened to all these jobs before we had illegals? Our own did it and they got a decent wage too but not any longer with all the illegals flooding the jobs market.

Furthermore all these high tech jobs are not available to our own because if they were; our own would be working now and making a very good wage. These same companies would not be whining about all the h 1 b’s they need as they can find US workers. The reality is these same companies want cheap labour and this labour wants a way to come to the US to work.

renderstudent
renderstudent
9 years ago
Reply to  jmfay

Ha ha dude, welcome to reality. Embrace international market and talent availability. I am a designer. The company I used to work for is hiring freelancers abroad. So they don’t need me. And I use the same freelancers and compete against the old company. The truth is that it is international market and we are competing against the world.so prepare the kids to get up their lazy ass and start learning and do some real studying. My neighbor foreign kid doesn’t need a calculator to do the math.

jmfay
jmfay
9 years ago
Reply to  renderstudent

We arent a male.

Second its pretty hard to do that when we have to educate all kids no matter their status. We live in the poor part of CCSD with alot of immigrant kids. There is also alot of poverty so between the no English and legal kids behind in English and Math; we dont wonder why our kids are not learning alot.

tom sanders
tom sanders
9 years ago
Reply to  Mike

Lets find out if all that’s true by getting rid of you…then we will talk….other than that anything you say is just talk….AND if it were to be true then let the U.S. decide who they want in…hell with all your paperwork reports..they are all bias….also these companies you say need these workers need to recruit from schools inside this country AND if they say there is not enough then make these companies set up programs to teach people they need to do this work using legal americans and only then use outside people….you love your socialist dictator to tell everyone what to do…then have dictator Obama tell these companies to set up programs to teach americans first. It’s a fact we have at least 75 million people legal americans out of work…what’s wrong with telling these companies to set up programs to teach or intern/on the job training whatever to use legal americans first?

jmfay
jmfay
9 years ago

What do you think will happen to all those Coloradoans who need a job if these illegals were legalized? The unemployment rate would go through the roof; entitlements and unemployment would be broke or nearly broke; more people would be homeless; etc.

We only created 74000 jobs last month but we brought in alot more in new green cards / work permits. That makes no sense.

We need to reduce the legal immigration by alot and get illegals out of the workforce. CO needs to mandate e verify for all work including independent contractor work. CO also needs to push the feds to mandate it on the federal level so we can get all the illegals doing current jobs out of them to give them to our own.

TimPrestki
TimPrestki
9 years ago

Mike/ Brian Williams are two out of the twenty most disgusting looser against to the immigration reform in the Country. Also, looks like these two ignorants did “copy paste”..! Wonder to know if any of this renegades can count with their fingers.
You know what just S*ut up! Please be advised, these two clowns are solely expressing their lack of education; NOT all the millions of real American in US share this stupidity expressed by the people opposed to FIX THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE IN US.

jmfay
jmfay
9 years ago
Reply to  TimPrestki

You mean the 25 million figure that Brian mentioned is phony?
Likewise the 33 million new green cards / work permits that S 744 is going to add in 10 years is a myth?

CBO is non partisan and they said 744 is not going to stop illegal immigration and it will depress wages for a generation.

We dont have to fix the immigration issue. We need existing laws enforced and strenghtened so that illegals and others not allowed to work arent working and taking jobs away from our own and depressing wages. If we can do that; you will see alot of people self deporting because they will have no reason to be here.

Just thinking
Just thinking
9 years ago
Reply to  jmfay

We need for Obama to stop issuing “executive orders” to do things that are against the laws of our country and the Constitution. Romanoff says that it is okay that Obama does this – that it doesn’t matter how things get done as long as they get done. Obama has no respect for our laws and feels he ALWAYS KNOWS BEST. Many times when the Republicans dig their heels in it is because they are very concerned about what Obama is doing to our country and our Constitution. Obama has made many executive orders to get around our laws. He has refused to defend many of our laws in court cases – issuing his own laws instead. Then he wonders why Congress won’t do his bidding – he is not a team player. It is his way or the highway! Obama needs to enforce our laws including the current immigration laws.

tom sanders
tom sanders
9 years ago

We already have a process for immigration…..ship the one’s that have criminal offences including D.U.I….burglary…assault out of the country…legalize the rest even the one’s going thru the legal process…then militarize the border.

baldor465
baldor465
9 years ago

Bark all you like right-wingers but immigration reform it’s not a matter or if but when.