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Trinidad Times: Bennet promotes Colorado Compact as vision for immigration reform

By Steve Block, Staff writer

The ongoing saga of immigration reform has left many hard feelings along the way, as some people would like to see immigrants welcomed into the U.S., while others want to keep them out. A Colorado senator is promoting the idea of a conversation on immigration reform in the state that he hopes will lead to real and lasting change on the federal level.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colo., hosted a Sunday press conference in Denver to focus discussion on what he calls the “Colorado Compact,” designed to bring together leaders and community members of differing backgrounds and politics, “to foster a more rational and collaborative approach to immigration policy than exists today.” Among the state leaders in attendance was former U.S. Senator Hank Brown.

Senator Bennet has been working for over a year to bring together a wide variety of stakeholders across the state who are interested in promoting immigration reform. Over 450 meetings have been held across the state to gather support for the compact idea.

The compact says that immigration reform is a matter between the federal government and foreign countries. It urges Colorado’s congressional delegation to work at the federal level to enact immigration policy that improves the immigration system, keeps communities safe and protects our borders.

The compact says Colorado is best served by a free-market economy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. That includes a visa system, which address the needs of businesses while protecting the rights of workers. The policy would include acknowledging the positive economic contributions immigrants make as taxpayers, workers and consumers.

The compact says immigration policy should be geared to keeping close families together to provide the most supportive home environments for all the state’s children.

The compact promotes a law enforcement environment that protects public safety and targets serious crime, while considering the interests of, and unintended consequences to, businesses workers and consumers. One of the compact’s long-term goals is to determine a way to accurately and reliably determine who should be allowed to work in the U.S., as a way of fostering the nation’s economy.

A commonsense approach to immigration reform is one of the compact’s prime tenets. Finding a sensible path forward for immigrants who are of good character, pay takes and are committed to becoming citizens of this country is an important goal of the compact.

“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,” Sen. 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.”

Other state leaders also weighed in at the press conference with their expression s of support for the compact. Among them was Guillermo, “Bill,” Vidal, president of the state Hispanic chamber of commerce and former mayor of Denver.

“The Colorado Compact has turned the divisive debate around immigration to a more common sense and productive point,” Vidal said. “As an immigrant with a varied background in state and local government, I am proud to see us come to a consensus around these proposals."

A Colorado farmer also expressed her support for the compact. Mary Kraft, owner of Badger Creek Farm and Quail Ridge Dairy in Ft. Morgan, said it’s time to tone down the rhetoric and focus on solving the problems related to the immigration question.

“The loud and angry debate over immigration is hurting Colorado’s farmers, as we struggle to find the labor we need,” “Kraft 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.”

Ken Buck, Weld County district attorney, said Colorado leaders needed to give federal government leaders a push on the issue.

“The time has come for the federal government to take serious action on the issue of immigration,” District Attorney Buck said. “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.”

The compact can be found online at Supporters encourage the public to sign on to the compact and add their names to those willing to be part of a meaningful discussion of immigration reform.

Read more at the Trinidad Times