GREELEY, Colo. — A few dozen advocates for comprehensive immigration reform, including several undocumented immigrants, staged a protest outside the congressional office of Republican Cory Gardner, part of the House GOP majority that’s blocked immigration reform in Washington and now a candidate for U.S. Senate.
“Republicans in the House of Representatives have had more than a year to take a vote on immigration reform and they have refused to do so,” said Patty Kupfer, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration reform group that held 27 protests around the country Wednesday at the offices of lawmakers who have signaled an openness to reform but done little to spur action in Congress.
“He’s really just ignoring the economic needs of his district,” Kupfer continued, noting that Gardner’s sprawling Fourth Congressional District includes so many people who make their living from farming. “It’s time for him to stop blocking this issue.”
Gardner, after saying immediately following the 2012 election that he supported reform, stood with his House GOP colleagues in refusing to act on the comprehensive reform package that passed the Senate in 2013 with support from 68 of 100 senators, including Democrat Mark Udall, who Gardner is challenging this November.
He has echoed the party line that immigration reform must be done with a piecemeal approach and that the first step should be securing the U.S.-Mexico border (the Senate bill included nearly $50 billion in federal dollars for that very purpose).
On Wednesday, after protesters at Gardner’s congressional office asked for a meeting, Gardner, who was elsewhere in the metro area, called in and chatted with some of them by phone.
“He hears their concerns and supports immigration reform,” said Emily Hytha, Gardner’s congressional spokeswoman.
But the activists at his office want more than lip service.
They scheduled today’s protests to mark exactly one year from the last House action on any immigration-related bill, a measure that sought to end the Obama administration’s deferred action program and re-start the deportation of DREAMers, young people brought to the country illegally by their parents.
Gardner, like most of his House GOP colleagues, voted for that legislation.
“Congressman Gardner has voted against me, my friends and family,” said Franco Gutierrez, a DREAMer from Lafayette. “Now, we’re asking that he pick up the phone and call Speaker Boehner to give us a vote on immigration reform now.”
Congress is not expected to take serious action on immigration reform before the midterm elections in November.