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Michael Bennet on Immigration

Democratic Presidential Challenger; CO Senator

 


Don't decriminalize border; it's Trump's nativist hostility

Q: Should we decriminalize the border?

BENNET: I disagree that we should decriminalize our border. I was part of the Gang of Eight, with John McCain, that wrote the 2013 immigration bill that passed the Senate with 68 votes, that gave a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people that are here, that would pass the most progressive DREAM Act that had ever been conceived, much less passed on the floor of the Senate, and had $46 billion of border security. Every single Democrat voted for that bill.

HARRIS: Laws on the books allow [kids of border crossers] to be incarcerated as though they've committed crimes. These children have not committed crimes and should be not treated like criminals.

BENNET: There's not a single person on this stage who would ever separate a child from their parents at the border. That is what this administration has done in the American people's name. They have turned our border into a symbol of nativist hostility.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit) , Jul 31, 2019

Family separation more like Holocaust than Statue of Liberty

When I see these kids at the border, I see my mom, because she was separated from her parents during the Holocaust in Poland. For Donald Trump to be doing what he's doing to children and families at the border, the president has turned the border of the United States into a symbol of nativist hostility when we should be represented by the Statue of Liberty. We need to make a change
Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

Path to citizenship for DREAMers; oppose family separation

Bennet co-signed a letter spearheaded by Sen. Kamala Harris to then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, demanding that the Trump administration take immediate action to reunite 539 migrant children with their families. He has advocated for providing a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients.
Source: Axios.com "What you need to know about 2020" , May 2, 2019

Trump is anti-immigrant; immigrants are a positive force

Q: Are Trump's immigration policies driven by racism?

A: I think they're driven by a profound anti-immigrant sentiment and a complete misapprehension of the contribution that immigrants and immigration has made to the United States of America. They see it as a negative force, immigration and immigrants as a negative force. I think the history is that it has been a positive force.

Source: The Atlantic, "Immigration," on 2020 Democratic primary , Jan 24, 2018

America is a unique place for refugees to succeed

There is not an immigrant in Colorado that has a thicker accent than my grandparents had. And there was nobody I ever met who were greater patriots than my grandparents. They loved this country. And they were astonished by our political system, by our commitment to pluralism, by their ability to rebuild their shattered lives in the United States, and they truly believe they could never have done it anywhere else. I think a lot about them when we're having these immigration conversations.
Source: The Atlantic, "Immigration," on 2020 Democratic primary , Jan 24, 2018

Path to citizenship for millions living in the shadows

Q: How would you resolve the immigration issue?

Bennet: As a member of the Gang of Eight, I was part of a bipartisan team that collaborated to fix our broken immigration system. Our comprehensive immigration reform bill included a path to citizenship for millions living in the shadows, as well as measures to strengthen border security and reform our outdated visa system. It passed the Senate with 68 votes, but Washington dysfunction got in the way and House obstructionists blocked a vote.

Source: LWV's Vote411.org on 2016 Colorado Senate Race , Sep 19, 2016

More National Guard troops on border; then amnesty

Noting the murder of a U.S. citizen on a Texas border lake last week, Bennet said he supported more National Guard troops on the border as well as comprehensive immigration reform.

Buck countered that when he hears Bennet talk about immigration reform, he hears the word "amnesty," which got cheers from his supporters.

"You voted against more Border Patrol agents and finishing the fence on the border," Buck charged. "We don't need to send signals that if (illegal immigrants) can get here and stay in the shadows, we will excuse them in time."

Bennet replied, "You can call it amnesty if you want. I'm willing to call it (President) George Bush's policy in Texas as well as that of the Wall Street Journal for the past 10 years."

Source: Pueblo Chieftan coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate Debate , Oct 8, 2010

Sponsor and enthusiastic support of the DREAM Act

One of the questions concerned the "Dream Act" which would grant citizenship to illegal aliens, in return for meeting certain requirements such as promising to serve two years in the military or completing two years of college with the intent to obtain a degree.

When asked for positions on the Dream Act, Sen. Bennet, who co-sponsored the bill, enthusiastically voiced his support while Buck stated he is opposed to the bill. Buck said we should not give people that have come to this country illegally the benefit of the Dream Act. Buck went on to criticize a portion of the bill that would allow an individual with two misdemeanors to still qualify for citizenship. "I consider two misdemeanor sex assaults, or two DUI's or other crimes to be serious, especially if they're committed by the time they are 18 or 19 years old." Buck said he does agree that he wants to give people the opportunity to become citizens, but that citizenship has to be earned.

Source: Greeley Gazette coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate debate , Sep 29, 2010

Our borders not secure; create a path to citizenship

Our current immigration system is broken. Our borders are not secure, legal immigration channels do not serve America's economic needs and instead of bringing families together, too often the system separates them. Despite these serious problems, the debate over immigration policy is often reduced to emotion and kneejerk rhetoric.

Our economy and national security depend on stopping the political gamesmanship and creating a system that works. It is time for practical, comprehensive reform that fixes our immigration system as a whole--enhancing border security and creating sound policy solutions for undocumented immigration. I believe a comprehensive approach must include:

Source: 2010 Senate campaign website, bennetforcolorado.com "Issues" , Jul 2, 2009

Supports continued funding of sanctuary cities.

Bennet supports the F2A survey question on sanctuary cities

Faith2Action.org is "the nation's largest network of pro-family groups." They provide election resources for each state, including Voter Guides and Congressional Scorecards excerpted here. The Faith2Action survey summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: 'Continued funding of sanctuary cities '

Source: Faith2Action Survey 10-FF-q12a on Sep 19, 2010

Supports granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Bennet supports the F2A survey question on amnesty

Faith2Action.org is "the nation's largest network of pro-family groups." They provide election resources for each state, including Voter Guides and Congressional Scorecards excerpted here. The Faith2Action survey summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: 'Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants '

Source: Faith2Action Survey 10-FF-q12b on Sep 19, 2010

Opposes full implementation of current border security laws.

Bennet opposes the F2A survey question on borders

Faith2Action.org is "the nation's largest network of pro-family groups." They provide election resources for each state, including Voter Guides and Congressional Scorecards excerpted here. The Faith2Action survey summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: 'Full implementation of current border security laws'

Source: Faith2Action Survey 10-FF-q12c on Sep 19, 2010

Terminate national emergency at the Southern border.

Bennet voted YEA Joint Resolution on Proclamation 9844

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on February 15, 2019, in Proclamation 9844 is hereby terminated.

Proclamation 9844 issued by the president on Feb. 15, 2019: Declares a state of national emergency at the southern border to address the issues of illegal immigration and criminal trafficking into the US: "The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency. The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics. The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border is long-standing, and despite the executive branch's exercise of existing statutory authorities, the situation has worsened in certain respects in recent years. Because of the gravity of the current emergency situation, it is necessary for the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis."

Opposing the Proclamation (supporting the Resolution), ACLU press release, 2/15/2019 The ACLU issued the following statement upon filing a lawsuit: "By the president's very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency. He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall 'faster.' This is a patently illegal power grab that hurts American communities and flouts the checks and balances that are hallmarks of our democracy."

Legislative outcome Passed House 245-182-5 roll #94 on Feb. 26; pass Senate 59-41 roll #49 on March 14; Vetoed by Pres. Trump; veto override failed, 248-181-3 (2/3 required), roll #127 on March 26

Source: Supreme Court case 19-HJR46 argued on Feb 26, 2019

Increase both high-skill and family-based visa caps.

Bennet co-sponsored the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act

Legislative SummaryThis bill increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7% of the total number of such visas available that year to 15%, and eliminates the 7% cap for employment-based immigrant visas. It also removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China. The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY2020-FY2022, by reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers), and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the largest number of recipients of such visas. Of the unreserved visas, not more than 85% shall be allotted to immigrants from any single country.

Explanation from the Countable.US: Under the current immigration system, immigrants from any one country can claim no more than 7% of the 140,000 employment-based green cards issued annually to foreign nationals working in the U.S. This significantly disadvantages immigrants from larger countries that more immigrants come from.

For example, China (population 1.3 billion) and India have large backlogs of workers wishing to immigrate to and work in the U.S., but they have the name visa caps as countries such as Iceland or Estonia (population 1.3 million), which have both much smaller populations and far fewer citizens seeking to immigrate to the U.S.

The net effect of this is that immigrants from India and China can face decades-long waits, averaging 2-3 times the wait times for immigrants from other countries, for green cards, and many have to return home because they can't get permanent residency; meanwhile, countries such as Iceland and Estonia never come close to reaching their visa limit caps.

Legislative outcome Roll call 437 in House on 7/10/2019 passed 365-65-2; referred to Committee in Senate 7/9/2019; no action as of 1/1/2020.

Source: S.386/H.R.1044 19-HR1044 on Feb 7, 2019

Other candidates on Immigration: Michael Bennet on other issues:
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Tom Tancredo
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Page last updated: Jul 16, 2020