Immigration reform must happen now, says Denver City Council proclamation

Thumbnail image for chris nevitt.jpg
Chris Nevitt has something to proclaim.
The controversial Arizona immigration bill hasn't stopped any folks from coming into this country illegally yet. After all, it won't take effect until July. But it's certainly led to a bumper crop of proclamations, including denunciations by Denver Public Schools and the City of Boulder -- with the latter prompting a boycott call from none other than Senator and certified fouche Dave Schultheis.

Now, it's the Denver City Council's turn. At tonight's council meeting, members Chris Nevitt and Paul López will offer a document "urging swift federal action on comprehensive national immigration reform."

In Nevitt's view, the issue is local even if no such law has been passed here. "This is something that continues to impinge on Denver year after year and decade after decade because of the federal government's failure to act," he says.

Given that "the last time the federal government really tried to embrace immigration reform was the '80s," Nevitt continues, "I understand where the people of Arizona are coming from. I think the way they're dealing with the situation is a huge mistake, but I can't fault them for trying. This simply has to be addressed on the federal level, and myself and Councilman López wanted to make that clear, and to lay out what we'd like to see in comprehensive immigration reform."

The theme of their message is compromise.

"I think there is huge agreement in the middle on this issue," he maintains. "Unfortunately, I think the two sides of this debate have demonized each other. The immigration-rights folks look at the people who pursued the Arizona measure as being motivated by racism and anti-immigrant sentiment, and the people on the other side see immigration-rights folks as wanting to have open borders and amnesty.

"Ambiguity breeds fear, and our immigration system is now rife with ambiguity," he goes on. "If we had secure borders, if we had actual enforcement of laws against the employment of illegal immigrants, and if we had a clear and unambiguous system for people to come to the country either to immigrate as future citizens or to immigrate temporarily to do work -- if all this was clear, there would be no conflict. Everyone would understand what the rules are.

"But when someone without a job walks past a construction site and sees a lot of people working and they're speaking Spanish, and they have no confidence that these people are legal immigrants, illegal immigrants or citizens, that's what breeds frustration and resentment."

So, too, does bureaucratic stasis -- something he and López are hoping they can counteract by the careful targeting of their appeal.

"Tonight, we'll have someone from Congresswoman Diana DeGette's office, from Senator Michael Bennet's office and, I hope, from Senator Mark Udall's office," he notes. "We have on confidence that a proclaim from the Denver City Council is going to move Nancy Pelosi or anybody else in Congress. But Michael Bennet, Mark Udall and Diana DeGette represent us, and I think it's worthwhile for people across the country, and local jurisdictions across the country, to communicate directly with their federal representatives to say, 'This is killing us. It's putting our local law enforcement and service providers under absurd pressure. We need you to solve this problem, because we can't do it.'"

Here's the text of the proclamation:

Proclamation PR10-0379, Series of 2010

Urging Swift Federal Action on Comprehensive National Immigration Reform

Introduced by Councilmembers Chris Nevitt and Paul D. López

WHEREAS, our national immigration system is broken; and

WHEREAS, until our broken national immigration system is fixed, employers who pay fair wages, offer good benefits, and play by the rules will continue to be undercut by employers who gain unfair market advantage by exploiting immigration status to pay lower wages, avoid taxes, and violate labor laws; and

WHEREAS, until our broken national immigration system is fixed, local law enforcement will continue to be pressured to bear unfair burdens of Federal responsibility, local service providers will continue to feel pressure to compromise their charitable missions, and local communities will continue to feel the corrosive tensions of immigration uncertainty that pit worker against worker and neighbor against neighbor; and

WHEREAS, until our broken national immigration system is fixed, we will continue to be plagued by unlawful entry into the United States and the circumvention of our nation's immigration laws; and we believe that effective and reliable border security must be a central feature of any comprehensive national immigration reform package; and

WHEREAS, our broken national immigration system fails even the most basic tests of economy or humanity, by ignoring the economic realities that propel workers to the United States and the roles they fill in the American economy, and by ignoring the bonds of family that pull immigrant workers together and, too often, tumultuously apart; and

WHEREAS, comprehensive national immigration reform will serve to boost wages for both native-born and legal immigrant workers, increase annual tax revenue for all levels of government, and provide a needed boost to private sector economic activity; and

WHEREAS, immigrants, through hard work and pursuit of better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities, have been integral to the development of Denver, of Colorado, and of the United States, and continue to make valuable contributions to our city, state, and nation in every area of endeavor and sector of the economy; and

WHEREAS, this nation was founded on legal and ethical principles that demand dignity, respect, and equality of treatment for all people, regardless of race, class, color, creed, or country of origin; and

WHEREAS, the culture of these United States, after over two-and-a-quarter centuries, now represents a vast diversity of cultures that were each transported to our country at different times and for different reasons but that have each added their own unique color and quality to the tapestry of American life.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT PROCLAIMED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER:

Section 1. That the Council of the City and County of Denver calls upon President Barack Obama, the United States Congress, and our Colorado congressional delegation, to take swift and responsible legislative action to produce fair, humane, effective, and comprehensive federal immigration reform - reform that enhances American stability, security, and prosperity by: providing for robust border control; enforceable immigration laws; family unification; a rate and system of controlled immigration that matches the needs of our economy; a path to earned legalization, citizenship, and social integration for our existing immigrant workforce and their families; equitable access to higher education for immigrant students already being educated in American public schools; enhanced enforcement of labor laws; and bilateral partnerships with other countries to promote economic development that will reduce the flow of immigrants in the first place.

Section 2. That the Clerk of the City & County of Denver is hereby directed to deliver a certified copy of this proclamation to the Colorado Congressional offices of United States Senator Michael Bennet, United States Senator Mark Udall, and United States Congresswoman Diana DeGette.

PASSED BY THE COUNCIL_______________________2010
________________________________________PRESIDENT


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