By Joshua Wolpe, DENVER DAILY NEWS
A large group of House Democrats introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill Tuesday.
The legislation, authored by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., has over 80 co-sponsors, including Democratic Colorado U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette, Jared Polis, Ed Perlmutter and John Salazar.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 is billed as legislation that would strengthen border security, create a streamlined employment verification system, alter the visa program to encourage the reunification of families and establish a commission to recommend changes to the current system of visas for skilled workers.
“This legislation is the right step to fix our outdated and unrealistic immigration system,” said the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition in a statement. “Nevertheless, we cannot forget that the immigration reform debate is about real people. Every day, families, workers and our economy suffer in the absence of a reform package. We urgently need to reach a solution that is just, humane and moves us to economic recovery.”
The topic of immigration reform usually elicits strong response on all sides of the issue, and the newly proposed legislation was no exception.
“You can call anything ‘reform’ – this is proof of that,” said former Congressman Tom Tancredo, a Jefferson County Republican. “Rewarding people for breaking the law is never good public policy. No matter how you frame it or how you use the language, the reality is you are rewarding people for breaking the law.”
Tancredo went on to outline his solution to immigration reform.
“There are two things you can do to solve the problem, and of course the federal government will never do them. First, we need to mandate the E-Verify program for every private employer in the U.S. to determine the validity of Social Security numbers. And secondly, we need to secure the border. That’s it – the issue will go away in a few years. Most people here illegally will return home because the thing they came for – a job – will no longer be available.”
DeGette and Polis released statements in support of the bill, emphasizing that the current system is ineffective.
“These comprehensive immigration reforms are a much-needed fix to our broken immigration system,” said DeGette. “This bill includes the common-sense solutions that will move our immigration system towards a humane approach that will help build our economy, protect children and families, and provide for effective enforcement. I look forward to working to pass these long overdue reforms.”
Polis’ statement centered around his initiatives to reform the EB-5 Visa program, which he says are designed to make it easier for foreign entrepreneurs to invest in the U.S. and create jobs for American workers. The initiatives are included in the legislation.
“Immigration reform is good for our families, our national security, and our economy and in order for it to succeed, it needs to be comprehensive and based on common sense,” said Polis. “With our economy hemorrhaging jobs and companies to our foreign competitors, it only makes sense to encourage business-savvy innovators to bring their good ideas and much-needed investment to some of the hardest hit areas of the American economy.”
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters