At NDN Event, Senator Michael Bennet Optimstic About Immigration Reform's Prospects

With the Senate Judiciary Committee continuing its third week of markup on S. 744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, NDN and NPI's 21st Century Border Initiative hosted a special lunchtime keynote address today featuring Senator Michael Bennet (D-Col.), joined by Congressman Joe Garcia (D, FL-26), on the progress of immigration legislation in Congress. 

Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the “Gang of Eight” that drafted the Senate border and immigration bill, began by reflecting on experience from his own state: “I don’t think this is a Democrat or a Republican issue at all. I think it is a big Colorado issue, and a big issue for our economy.” He emphasized that immigration reform is important to all economic sectors across the United States and should be a nonpartisan unifying issue. He complimented the “extraordinary leadership” of the four Republican members of the Gang of Eight, Senators Rubio, McCain, Graham, and Flake. Passing the proposed immigration reform legislation would create a “new architecture” in gridlocked Washington. Senator Bennet also established the importance of creating a pathway to citizenship: “We created a chance for people who pass a background check and pay taxes to have a chance for lawful status in the United States, to work and pay taxes and come out of the shadows.” He expressed every expectation that the Senate bill will leave committee this week, commended the work and transparency of Judiciary Committee, and hoped the House will strongly consider the Senate proposal.

Congressman Joe Garcia, member of the House Judiciary Sub-Committee on Immigration and Border Security, echoed Senator Bennet’s praise for bipartisan action, sense of the importance of immigration reform, and optimism that legislation will pass in the House as well as the Senate. Even if the House must go through its own process, “we all want immigration reform.” He compared the current situation with the failed reform of 2007 saying Congress has advanced to “more substantative debate” because, in addition to all other reasons, comprehensive “immigration reform makes sense on an economic basis.” He concluded saying, “This is something huge, something that needs to be done, and the alternative is unacceptable.”

Simon Rosenberg, President of NDN and the New Policy Institute, introduced the event and Congressional members and gave a 21st Century Border Initiative presentation entitled “Immigration Reform: How The Landscape Has Changed Since McCain Kennedy Was Introduced in 2005.” The report uses statistics to narrate how the improvements in the US immigration system, US politics, and Mexico’s economy make this the ideal and necessary time for comprehensive immigration reform. Firmly supporting the Senate bill, he concluded, “It would be a reminder that Washington can do big things.” For the a copy of powerpoint presentation Simon gave at the event please see below. The presentation, Immigration Reform: How The Landscape Has Changed Since McCain/Kennedy Was Introduced in 2005 can be seen HERE.

For background on the event be sure to read NDN and NPI's 21st Century Border Initiative new report, "Realizing the Strategic National Value of our Trade, Tourism and Ports of Entry with Mexico." This new report will build on two previous papers produced with NPI by ASU's Erik Lee, "Realizing the Value of Crossborder Trade With Mexico" and "Realizing the Full Value of Tourism from Mexico to The United States." Simon’s recent Huffington Post Op-ed, “The Border is Safer, Our Immigration System is Better;” Kristian's recent NBC Latino Op-Ed "Want to make the border safer? Pass common sense gun violence legislation;" see our round-up of our most important work on these issues; and stay in touch with us via our website