DENVER –Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall called on President Obama to take executive action on immigration reform if the GOP-controlled House refuses to act, joining four of his Democratic colleagues to date in pressuring the White House to reassert control on this policy issue.
Udall, who faces a hard reelection battle against Republican Congressman Cory Gardner this fall, made the comments Thursday morning during an interview with KBNO Radio’s Fernando Sergio, who introduced Udall by telling listeners he was going to be making an announcement.
“Nearly one year ago, I was at the forefront of efforts in Colorado and in Congress to pass the Senate’s bipartisan landmark immigration-reform proposal. However, since then the bill has languished in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Udall said.
“Every day that House Republicans ignore their constituents and refuse to act on immigration reform is another day Colorado families continue to be senselessly torn apart, another day our economy suffers and another day entire communities must live in fear.
“If Republicans in the House continue serving their hard-core partisan right wing and won’t act on behalf of Colorado families and businesses or the millions of immigrants living in the shadows, then the president should take action to stop tearing apart families whose only crime is seeking a better life for themselves.”
Udall was one of 68 senators who voted last year for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included $50 billion in funding for additional security measures along the U.S.-Mexico border and a 13-year path to citizenship for the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
That bill, authored by a bipartisan group of eight senators that included Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, has never been acted on by the GOP-controlled House, which prefers taking a piecemeal approach but hasn’t done anything on immigration to date.
Pressed more by Sergio, Udall said he thinks the president should act if Congress doesn’t make progress on immigration during the summer session that ends in late July.
Udall’s move Thursday is very much about November, an attempt to solidify his standing with Hispanic voters, a growing bloc in Colorado with the potential to tip the scales in his reelection race against Gardner.
“We are pleased that Sen. Udall recognizes that our families remain in need of relief and reform now. Sen. Udall and his fellow Democratic Senators have done everything they can to fight for immigration reform legislation this Congress,” said Lorella Praeli, Director of Advocacy and Policy with the group United We Dream.
“We now welcome their commitment to bring that same pressure to fighting for the broadest possible administrative relief for our families.”
The group, along with Udall’s campaign and America’s Voice, which held a protest at Gardner’s congressional office on Wednesday, took note of Gardner’s vote one year ago this week in favor of a measure to halt President Obama’s deferred action program and re-start the deportation of DREAMers, undocumented immigrants brought to the country illegally by their parents.
“The fact that House Republicans like Rep. Gardner embraced these anti-immigrant policies and have refused to vote on reform legislation demonstrates why executive action now is so essential,” Praeli said.
Udall’s campaign also blasted Gardner for voting with “radical anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King”, the sponsor of the legislation to end deferred action, “nine out of 10 times.”
“While Colorado’s immigrant families are being senselessly torn apart, Gardner continues to stand with the most radical, anti-immigrant members of Congress,” said west Denver resident Angela Padilla in a press release from Udall’s campaign. “Gardner teamed up with Tea Party extremist Steve King, who infamously said DREAMers were ‘drug mules,’ to push legislation to deport DREAMers from the country they grew up in and call home.”
Gardner softened his stance on the immigration issue on Thursday, announcing that he now supports the ENLIST Act, sponsored by Congressman Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, which would allow undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship by serving in the military.