U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said Friday that he hopes Congress can pass the Dream Act — a bill to protect the status of the children of undocumented immigrants — even before the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the issue in October.
“I hope Congress acts, not because of a date in court or because of an election year but because it’s the right thing to do,” Gardner said shortly after giving a speech to about 50 business leaders and advocates at an immigration forum at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
“We know this is the right thing to do,” the Republican added. “I have people that I live with in my community who are dreamers. My daughter goes to school with a grade full of dreamers and the opportunity for us to pass this legislation is so close.”
Gardner’s remarks came on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court decided to take up the issue of whether President Donald Trump’s administration has the authority to shut down a program that protects about 800,000 dreamers from deportation.
That would place the contentious debate over immigration squarely in the middle of an election campaign season.
Gardner – along with Colorado’s Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet – were part of so-called “gang of six,” a bipartisan group of senators who sought to pass legislation that would reform the immigration system.
Their bill – which called for more border security, protection for the dreamers and reducing the backlog of immigration court cases won the support of 54 senators – six short of the number of votes needed to avoid a filibuster or a veto.
Gardner was one of several speakers at a forum who reaffirmed their support for the Colorado Compact on Immigration – a bipartisan group that first formed in December 2012.
Compact members pledged to seek consensus on a bipartisan solution to the immigration issue.
Friday’s forum at the St. Cajetan’s Event Center was hosted by MSU Denver, whose president, Janine A. Davidson, told the audience that the plight of the dreamers is a very real concern on the campus, where 300 dreamers are enrolled as students.
“We should remind ourselves that we are a nation of immigrants. They are the fabric of society. They are literally what built America,” Davidson said.
“They (the Dreamers) are in this weird political limbo that is difficult for them,” she added. “And we do our best to help them navigate the political waters that have become quite turbulent in the last two months and years.”
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said his office is working to protect both immigrants and dreamers
As an example, he cited Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in which the court – by a 5-4 vote – ruled that the Trump administration could not, for now, add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
“The issue is: are we going to count everyone as the Constitution requires?” Weiser said. “Or are we going to allow contrived partisan purposes to infect the census, to lead to an under count, by demonizing and scaring immigrants?”
“That would hurt Colorado because we need everyone here counted to get the representation that were entitled to and the money we’re entitled to,” he added.
“Yesterday, Colorado and the rule of law won,” Weiser said.
He vowed to wage a similar legal battle over any effort to deport the dreamers living in the state.
“My office is representing all the dreamers in Colorado and the values of this country and the rule of law to protect them,” Weiser said.