The Colorado Statesman: Bipartisan leaders launch Colorado Compact
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, along with former Senator Hank Brown and statewide leaders spanning the political, business, agricultural, civic, and religious spectrum, have unveiled The Colorado Compact, a set of principles signed by over 100 statewide stakeholders to guide a national discussion on comprehensive immigration reform.
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, according to its supporters. 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.
“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, which are listed in the box on this page.
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 says he 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, according to his office.
The Colorado Compact
Immigration policy is a federal issue between the U.S. government and other countries. We urge the Colorado congressional delegation to work to enact immigration policy at the federal level that improves our immigration system, keeps our communities safe, and protects our borders.
STRENGTHENING OUR ECONOMY
Colorado is best served by a free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. Our immigration system must be flexible enough to address the needs of businesses while protecting the interests of workers. This includes a visa system that is both responsive and effective at meeting the demands of our economy. It should also acknowledge the beneficial economic contributions immigrants make as workers, taxpayers, and consumers.
ENSURING OUR NATIONAL SECURITY
We believe that maintaining the safety and security of the United States is an utmost priority. Our immigration system must ensure the protection of our communities and national borders.
Strong families are critical to developing successful individuals and cohesive communities. Our immigration policies, where possible, should prioritize keeping close families together in order to ensure the most supportive home environments for all children across our state.
We support a law enforcement strategy that focuses on public safety, targets serious crime, and safeguards witnesses and victims. We further urge a reasonable and predictable regulatory environment that considers the interests of, and unintended consequences to businesses, workers, and consumers. Furthermore, the broader reform effort should eventually include a way to accurately, reliably, and affordably determine who is permitted to work, ensuring an adequate labor force for a growing economy.
A COMMONSENSE APPROACH
Immigrants are part of our communities across Colorado. We must adopt a commonsense approach to this reality that reflects our values and recognizes the critical role immigration has played in our nation's history and economy. Our immigration policies must provide a sensible path forward for immigrants who are here without legal status, are of good character, pay taxes, and are committed to becoming fully participating members of our society and culture.