DENVER — Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet is among five Democratic senators who are now encouraging President Obama to take executive action to improve the country’s immigration system in the face of threats from Republicans on Capitol Hill to give them more time to craft a legislation solution.
Bennet, who was part of the so-called Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group that drafted a comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support in 2013 only to be ignored by the GOP-controlled House, signed onto a letter urging Obama to use his executive authority “to improve as much of the immigration system as you can.”
The letter, first reported Monday by POLITICO, was also signed by the three other Democratic members of the Gang of Eight, Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Chuck Schumer of New York, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.
Taking action on immigration reform will lead to safer communities and offer an economic boost, Bennet and the other Democrats argue.
Obama has pledged to take action by Christmas and possibly as early as this week, although sources now indicate the executive orders are not imminent.
Colorado’s other U.S. senator, Mark Udall, who lost his bid for a second term earlier this month, expressed his support for Obama to take action on his own back in June.
Bennet, who faces reelection in 2016, began a push for immigration reform in 2011 when he began work on what became the Colorado Compact, a series of core principles on immigration reform that more than 100 state leaders signed onto — including Bennet’s 2010 GOP challenger Ken Buck and former Republican Sen. Hank Brown — in 2012 to signal their support.
While Republicans continue to urge Obama not to act on his own, the six Democrats write that Republicans have already had plenty of time to act on immigration reform.
“Immigrant communities have waited too long for House Republicans to catch up with the American public’s support for comprehensive immigration reform,” the letter states.
Additionally, the Democrats argue that Obama is well within his executive authority to take further action sparing millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and to streamline the country’s immigration system.
“Every president since Eisenhower has used his executive authority to make our immigration system function more effectively,” the letter states. “Perhaps the action most similar to what is needed today is the “Family Fairness” policy implemented by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, which deferred the deportation of 1.5 million spouses and children of individuals who were legalized under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, representing 40 percent of the then undocumented population.”