Udall Statement On Immigration Reform
This week, the Senate took up the issue of immigration reform. Despite some serious flaws, I voted for H.R. 4437, the border security bill that passed the House last December, because it makes long-overdue and necessary improvements in securing our borders. Enforcing the law of the land should be everyone's goal. My decision was also influenced by the 9/11 Commission, which recommended increased immigration enforcement personnel, stronger surveillance, tougher entry-and-exit procedures and the use of better technologies to enhance our border security.
By focusing exclusively on the question of border security and immigration enforcement, however, the House ignored the most difficult and challenging aspect of immigration reform, namely the question of how to deal humanely and effectively with the estimated 8-11 million illegal immigrants currently living and working in this country.
I do not favor making every man, woman and child who overstays a visa or resides in this country illegally a felon. Driving illegal immigrants deeper underground, even more than current law, which keeps them in the shadows, is a terrible tactic if our overarching goal is national security. In this regard, H.R. 4437 needs to be refined and revised by the Senate, and I am hopeful this will happen.
I am convinced that reassuring the American people that we have taken strong action to strengthen enforcement and secure our borders is a necessary predicate for the harder and more complicated task of addressing the problem of existing illegal and undocumented workers. With stronger border security and enforcement established we can work to build a consensus for the harder task of clarifying the status of existing illegal immigrants, most of whom are hard-working and otherwise law-abiding people, in a thoughtful way that will protect children, include guest-worker needs and establish a more transparent process for legalized entry.
There is perhaps no more divisive issue in our country than immigration, and sadly the tone and content of much of the debate in the Congress has only fueled the division. We must conduct this debate in a civilized manner and use this as an opportunity to unite the country and pass a sorely-needed comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Widow Closer To Keeping Home In RMNP
This week, the House Resources Committee unanimously approved a bill which would allow 83-year old Betty Dick to keep the cabin she has used as a home for over 25 years in Rocky Mountain National Park. The bill, S. 584, the Betty Dick Residence Protection Act, is based on a bill I sponsored and that the House approved last year.
Betty has been a great neighbor to the people of Grand County, she has been a wonderful steward of the land, and because of her many contributions to the community, some people have even called her the Grandma of Grand County. But she has been caught up in politics and bureaucracy. I'm pleased the Resources Committee, once again,
unanimously approved this bill which will allow Betty to stay in her cabin for the rest of her natural life.
Last summer, the House of Representatives unanimously passed my bill, H.R. 432, and it was sent to the U.S. Senate for action. However, the Senate made minor, cosmetic changes to the bill because of objections raised by Senator Wayne Allard and sent the Senate companion bill sponsored by Senator Ken Salazar to the House for final approval.
The legislation now goes to the full House for consideration, and upon approval, will go to the President for his signature. I will work with my colleagues to pass it on the House floor so that when Betty returns to Colorado this spring, she can enjoy the peace and comfort that her home has provided for over 25 years.
Statement On The Nomination Of Gov. Dirk Kempthorne As Secretary Of The Interior
I am pleased that the president looked west in nominating Governor Dirk Kempthorne to be the next Interior Secretary. The next Interior Secretary needs to demonstrate leadership on such pressing issues as forest health, maintenance of our national parks, Indian Affairs, and balancing responsible oil and gas development and respect for property owners. I look forward to the senate confirmation hearings and learning about the style and substance Gov. Kempthorne will bring to the Interior Department.
Udall To Host Free Tax Preparation Site
My office will host a tax preparation site at Front Range Community College in Westminster, 3645 W. 112th Ave, on April 15th from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. IRS-certified accountants will be on hand to assist seniors, low-income families, and other interested Coloradans with their 2005 tax returns.
Many of my constituents have expressed frustration with the sometimes confusing process of filing tax returns. I want to do everything I can to make sure Coloradans have the tools they need to take advantage of the tax benefits they may be entitled to. This program will go far to provide them with the information and help they need.
People interested in using the site do not need reservations and will be helped on a first-come first-served basis. Bilingual volunteers will be on hand to assist non-English speaking constituents, as well as volunteers to assist the hearing impaired. The service is completely free of charge. For more information call Matt Henken in my Westminster district office at (303) 650-7820.
Congressman Mark Udall
Serving Colorado's Front Range and Western Slope