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The Time is Now for Immigration Reform

Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
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Dear Fellow Coloradan,

Mark UdallFor years I have pushed to strengthen border security, provide a tough, but fair, pathway to earned citizenship for millions of undocumented Americans, and hold employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers. Finally, my colleagues agreed and last week the U.S. Senate passed historic comprehensive immigration reform in an overwhelming bipartisan way. It was a proud moment for the Senate, which all too often is mired in gridlock.

This comprehensive bill reflects Colorado values and achieves many important goals: from the largest commitment to border security and interior law enforcement in our nation's history to the creation of a market-based system that connects businesses with qualified workers. This comprehensive legislation will give farmers and businesses across Colorado – and the nation – the secure and legal workforce they’ve advocated for several years. More importantly, the bill includes provisions that ensure that Americans are given first preference for a job and that Americans' wages are not depressed by an underground economy.

These reforms are the result of a strong, bipartisan effort spearheaded by the so-called Gang of Eight, which included my colleague, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet. And the bill is strongly supported by a wide cross-section of Americans, including business and labor interests, clergy leaders, farmers, Latino groups and people of all philosophical stripes.

Now the time has come for the U.S. House of Representatives to follow suit and pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

I am particularly proud that this bill, written in the spirit of bipartisanship and compromise, allows undocumented students — DREAMers — a chance to achieve the American Dream and build a life here. This means that Colorado's 44,000 DREAMers, who were brought to the U.S. as small children, will have the opportunity to come out of the shadows and become the next generation of American leaders, innovators and job creators.

Immigration Reform

Comprehensive immigration reform also will open up our economy to more innovators who can create good-paying, American jobs. I’m proud that the bill contains multiple provisions that encourage foreign entrepreneurs to grow their companies in the United States and spur U.S. job growth — that’s why I’ve continually pushed for so-called Start-Up visas. Between 1990 and 2005, immigrants have started 25 percent of the highest growth companies in America — directly employing over 200,000 people. And since 2007, immigrant-founded small businesses have provided employment for 4.7 million people and generated $776 billion in revenue. Big time American companies, including Intel, Google, eBay and Sun Microsystems were all created by immigrants to this country, companies that help form the very roots of our thriving tech industry. Why would we want to shut the door on these job creators?

At the end of the day, comprehensive immigration reform is about more than improving our economy and creating jobs: it's about strengthening our Colorado communities. Indeed, throughout the Senate debate, I took to the Senate floor to urge my Senate colleagues to remember the faces of immigration.

On June 18, I told the story of Jorge, a father and a hard worker, who came to Colorado to make a better life for his family. 

And last Tuesday, I told the nation about Oscar, a Colorado college student and DREAMer, who is trying build a future in the only country he has ever known — the United States.

But the battle to fix our broken immigration system, strengthen border security and create jobs is far from over. The Senate has done its part to help Jorge, Oscar and the millions of Americans counting on Congress to act. Now the ball is in the House of Representative's court. Join with me in urging the House to act. 

Warm regards,

Mark Udall

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