Denver, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Mark Udall of Colorado along with U.S. House of Representatives, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, hosted a meeting in support of immigration reform for 2014. Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the passage of a comprehensive bill with tough provisions that was passed by the U.S. Senate. However, the Speaker of the House refuses to allow the law to even come to to the floor for a vote, where a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans are ready to support passage.
Senator Bennet has been at the forefront of immigration reform. He is one of 8 senators who worked out the details of the version of the law that was passed in the Senate. The senators, known as the "Gang of 8" come from both sides of the aisle and represent a mix of liberal and conservative senators from each party. Substantial compromise was made on each side to eventually agree on a bill that will provide relief to at least 60% of the undocumented immigrants who are present in the U.S.
The final Senate version contains tough enforcement provisions and provides a difficult route to citizenship for those who qualify. It is certainly not amnesty, but allows undocumented workers a clear path to citizenship so long as they remain in good standing with the law and follow certain other procedures. The Obama Administration is currently deporting roughly 450,000 immigrants every year, many who would be helped by the version passed in the Senate.
Most American families are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. The U.S. has benefited from immigrant ingenuity including the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell and in modern times, the founder of Yahoo and part of the group who founded Google were both immigrants. One of the requirements under the Senate version of the law is for immigrants to pay a fine which will help reduce the national debt. Also, the Senate version requires border security as a condition for immigration reform.
Opponents of the bill want to solve immigration on a piece-meal basis. They want more effort spent on border security before considering a path to citizenship. However, conservatives who are concerned about the nation's security encourage the passage of the law because it would help identify people who are in the country.
Although main-stream press have whistled immigration reform as a dead duck until President Obama leaves office, advocates continue to encourage a last minute change in positions. Both Republicans and Democrats stand to gain from the passage of the bill, and each stands to lose if nothing is done. Republicans signaled they were ready to work towards a solution after heavy losses during the last election. Voters indicated they were tired of the gridlock and animosity between the parties and wanted law makers to work towards resolution of issues for the benefit of the country. However, a few conservative law makers have pressured House leadership to refuse to allow the bill to come up for a vote.