Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, along with former Senator Hank Brown and statewide leaders spanning the political, business, agricultural, civic, and religious spectrum, today unveiled a set of principles signed by over 100 statewide stakeholders to guide a national discussion on comprehensive immigration reform -- the Colorado Compact.
The Colorado Compact represents a year-long effort to convene and promote a civil conversation on immigration in Colorado that can lead to real and lasting reform at the federal level. It is a result of more than 450 meetings across the state and brings together leaders and community members of diverse backgrounds and politics who are committed to fostering a more rational and collaborative approach to immigration policy than exists today.
With an urgent need for a comprehensive immigration policy, Colorado's commonsense approach is the beginning of an effort to demonstrate to Washington the type of constructive discussion that can lead to a lasting solution.
"Nearly eighteen months ago, we began a journey to chart a new path on immigration, away from the extreme rhetoric then engulfing the national conversation," Bennet said. "We knew that the politics playing out on immigration did not represent our state - where Coloradans value working together, despite our differences and backgrounds, to solve problems in the best interests of our people and future generations. This launch is not the end, but the beginning, of the road to come on immigration. We now have the benefit of Colorado's voice to inform the work of the new Congress. There undoubtedly will be some tough conversations and disagreements ahead, but I am confident that by bringing a little bit of Colorado commonsense and grit to Washington, we will fix our immigration system by ensuring it is more aligned with the needs of our economy, families and communities."
"The time has come for the federal government to take serious action on the issue of Immigration," said Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck. "While people of different political persuasions may not agree on the exact solutions, we need to be willing to have meaningful conversations the Colorado Compact provides a framework for these important discussions."
"Immigration is an economic issue that affects our business climate in Colorado," Club 20 Executive Director Bonnie Petersen added. "If we want a healthier business environment for our state, we need to fix our broken immigration system."
"The Colorado Compact has turned the divisive debate around immigration to a more common sense and productive point," Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and former Mayor of Denver Guillermo "Bill" Vidal stated. "As an immigrant with a varied background in state and local government, I am proud to see us come to a consensus around these principals."
"The loud and angry debate over immigration is hurting Colorado's farmers, as we struggle to find the labor we need," Mary Kraft, owner of Badger Creek Farm and Quail Ridge Dairy in Fort Morgan, said. "I'm glad to be part of this process of establishing a set of ideas that we can all agree upon, so we can begin fixing this problem."
The Compact is posted online at www.ColoradoCompact.com. The public is encouraged to sign onto the Compact as efforts continue to mobilize leaders, businesses, and organizations from around the state to get involved and add their names.
The Compact outlines six principles that the signers believe should guide the conversation in Washington on immigration reform. Among those principles is an affirmation that the federal government has a responsibility to enact and enforce immigration policy. It also states that our immigration laws should work to strengthen the economy, ensure our national security, and support families by keeping them together as much as possible. Finally, the Compact states that we must enact commonsense policies that reflect the importance of immigrants in our communities and provide a sensible path forward for immigrants in this country without legal status.
The bipartisan endeavor, which has spanned eighteen months and included hundreds of conversations and meetings across Colorado, has been led by Senator Michael Bennet and former U.S. Senator Hank Brown.
As a former superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Bennet saw first-hand the effects of our broken immigration system, as high school students without legal status brought to this country at a young age faced limited opportunities for their future. Since joining the Senate in 2009, he continued to see these ramifications throughout our state -- from agricultural producers unable to find needed workers, to tech companies unable to keep highly skilled graduates in our country. As a result, Bennet has made immigration reform a top priority.