What History Will Record In The End (Hopefully)

Sens. Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper.

It didn’t get much press–and that’s a thing we need to talk about–but last week, Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet announced they are signing on as sponsors of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021: the first legitimate attempt at a comprehensive immigration reform package since 2013’s Gang of Eight negotiations (which also included Sen. Bennet) led to the passage out of the Senate before dying in the GOP-controlled House:

U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet today joined over twenty of their Senate colleagues and dozens of members of the House of Representatives to introduce the bicameral U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. The comprehensive immigration reform bill is modeled after President Biden’s bold, inclusive, and humane framework for the future of the United States immigration system.

The legislation would provide millions of hardworking, undocumented immigrants with a pathway to citizenship, including Dreamers, Temporary Protective Status (TPS) recipients, and essential workers who have made enormous sacrifices during the pandemic; prioritize family reunification and keeping families together; and bolster the country’s long-term economic growth. The bill would also equip the country to responsibly and effectively manage the border with smart and effective investments, address root causes of migration that force people to leave Central America, and restore the United States’ commitment to human rights.

“For decades our broken immigration system has stifled our economy, undermined our security, and violated our country’s proud heritage as a nation of immigrants. We’ve seen this failed system play out in particularly horrific fashion over the last four years as families were ripped apart and children were housed in cages,” said Hickenlooper. “Today’s bill represents a comprehensive approach to tackling this challenge once and for all, including a much-needed, fair path to citizenship along with smart investments to effectively and responsibly manage our borders. It signals a new day in aligning our national values with our immigration policy.”

If passed into law, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would go considerably beyond the failed 2013 immigration reform bill by providing a three-year path to citizenship for green card holders, immediate green cards for “DREAMers,” and temporary legal status for undocumented immigrants already in the country with good records. It keeps families together in the U.S. during immigration proceedings, and clears visa backlogs for students and needed workers. It funds citizenship and English language instruction. And yes, it has money for border security as well–the smart kind, not the dumb wall-based variety.

But as we said at the beginning, buzz about this new ambitious proposal has been surprisingly lacking here in Colorado despite the active participation of both of the state’s U.S. Senators. One reason for this may be that finding the Republican Senators necessary to go along with any comprehensive immigration reform package is going to be difficult–likely more so than in 2013. In 2013, 14 Republicans joined with unanimous Senate Democrats to pass the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act by a lopsided 68-32 margin. If the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 gets to President Joe Biden’s desk, it’s almost certain to do so with less Republican crossover support simply due to the rightward drift of that party in the meantime.

Another reason we unfortunately suspect Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper are not getting the credit they deserve for being part of this campaign, however, is local intra-Democratic politics. After Hickenlooper’s easy primary victory in 2020 and perhaps in anticipation of an underdog primary challenge against Bennet in 2022, there seems to be some reluctance to acknowledge politically positive developments involving our two Senators when they occur–and a great deal of focus on miscues that, while deserving of criticism, are just not of the same magnitude as the good they’re trying to do.

That’s a mistake. And in the event Bennet and Hickenlooper do get comprehensive immigration reform passed after all these years of trying, they’ll have both thanks and a few apologies coming.

9 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. MattC says:

    I recall Colorado 17 years ago, allow me to remind you:
    – Republican governor

    – Republican senators

    – Republican majority in Congress (Ds only in CD1 & 2)

    – Republican state senate

    – Republican state house

    – And after Salazar won his Senate race, a Republican in every state wide elected office  (of course, no longer two R senators, and also a D gain in CD3.)

     

    My point is – red state Ds remain a little insane.

    Fourteen years for a complete D takeover. What?!

    But now it is nothing but whiny complaints –  these Ds suck. We need Colorado Ds that are more like Bernie Sanders!  (who is not a D) Why don't we have flying cars yet?

    If the insanity does not cost the Senate, the House, the general assembly, or any of the state offices – I will not care much. 

    Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper are fine.

    • Voyageur says:

      We need flying ELECTRIC cars you oily Boy Scum!

    • 2Jung2Die says:

      MattC – one omission – 17 years ago there was also a Republican President. My only real problem with that is that Pols photoshops his head onto pictures of Nikola Jokic. Well, there were others…

    • JohnInDenver says:

      The MORE DEMOCRATS strategy was the key to Colorado turning blue, as described in the book The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won.  

      The BETTER DEMOCRATS appeal that is the second half of the Daily Kos mantra ought to come when victories are consistent — and many (including me) do not think Colorado is quite certain to be there yet.  If the Republicans continue to argue amongst themselves and lose voter registrations, if the state-wide office holding Democrats gain vote margins in 2022, if Democrats pick up an additional House District to make a 5-3 delegation, if there are increased majorities in the State Senate and House, then let’s talk about who those “better” Democrats might be.

      • Duke Cox says:

        Why would you want to go down that rabbit hole? Is there a point you want to make down there? 

        Good on both men for supporting what appears to be a “big fuckin’ deal” (to quote our president in other circumstances.)

        In addition to Andrew, there were 19 other Democrats who sought that nomination. Two independents and a Socialist, too.

        I am curious which of those 23 people you think would have voted against this bill? I am much more interested in seeing our current senators’ work on banking, energy, lobbying reform, and the like.

        But since it seems to matter to you, and some others I respect..

        Thank you senators, both, for supporting those who are in desperate need. It is a good bill, as far as I can tell, and you are to be commended for making a stand which will, no doubt, infuriate many of your GOP colleagues and legions of your constituents.

        I encourage you to always do for those who are least able to fend for themselves. 

        Well done.

         

  2. itlduso says:

    I would hope it includes an E-Verify requirement for all employers. 

  3. Diogenesdemar says:

    I’ll applaud Bennett now; he’s a man of his word who’s proven he can be counted on  . . .

    . . . and, I’ll give Hickenlooper some credit, here, also — IF he sticks it out. “(Hopefully)” . . . you sure got that right.

  4. kwtree says:

    Consistency is what I want to see from both Senators. What Pols calls a "miscue"on Hick's part was glaringly inconsistent with support of much-needed immigration reform.

    But it was consistent with signalling to the Manchin/ Blue Dogs that he is amenable to working with them. It's consistent with Hick's constant inconsistency. 

    Time will tell, as Duke and Dio wrote…where will Colorado's Senators be on banking reform, on consumer protections,  on a public health option, on environmental justice, on regulatory oversight? Are corporations still people in these gentlemen's minds? Is corporate money protected free speech? When legislation conflicts with  donor interests, where will they stand?

    Hick came down on the side of the angels, for now. I remain skeptical about his remaining there.

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