THE BLOG

On Immigration, Colorado Is Ahead of Rep. Cory Gardner

04/15/2014 03:41 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2014
Kathryn Scott Osler via Getty Images

My name is Isaias Vasquez and I'm an immigrant leader, and Coloradan by heart. I was born to a family of farmers in Zacatecas, Mexico. After NAFTA was enacted and corn became cheaper to import from the U.S., we were no longer able to sustain ourselves. We left our cornfields behind for Colorado 14 years ago with the idea of a better and safer future. I was only eight. I am now privileged to be a college student and to have received temporary relief from deportation under the Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. However, my parents, to whom I owe everything for their act of love, were not eligible.

Immigration reform is real for me, my family and my community. What we want is what every American family wants: to continue studying, working, raising our families, contributing to this country, and most importantly, staying together without the constant threat of deportation.

There is currently great frustration with the Obama Administration's out-of control enforcement agenda, which has led to a record-breaking 2 million deportations. Many of the immigrants deported would qualify for relief and the eventual path to citizenship provided in the bipartisan bill passed in the U.S. Senate last year. Our community is urgently calling on the President to use his executive authority to stop these senseless deportations that split up families. And we will continue to pressure the Administration until they act.

That does not mean Republicans are off the hook, especially here in Colorado. In the U.S. Senate, there is a clear choice. Since Rep. Cory Gardner entered the Senate race, he has tried to portray himself as more moderate and centrist on a variety of issues. But when it comes to immigration, he talks out of both sides of his mouth.

Gardner now says we need a more "humane approach" to immigration. But when he's had the chance to act more humanely, he hasn't. Every time Gardner has had the chance, he voted with the majority of House Republicans who are blocking reform. Despite the strong support for immigration reform in Colorado, even among Republicans, Gardner has stood with the extremists.

Last June, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) offered an amendment to defund the DACA program and subject DREAMers to deportation. That program, started by President Obama in 2012, has already benefitted thousands of young immigrants here in Colorado, including me. In fact, we're in the top 10 states for DACA recipients.

But, Gardner sided with King, who you may recall, famously said that most DREAMers have "calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert." Instead of doing what Colorado voters want, Gardner is following the lead of an extremist, like King.

Last month, Gardner voted with King for "The ENFORCE the Law Act" and "The Faithful Execution of the Law Act" -- both of which sought to strip the President's executive authority powers to deliver targeted relief from deportation to DREAMers and military families.

Cory Gardner apparently believes that not only should DREAMers be deported but so should the undocumented spouses, children or parents of people who risk their lives serving our country every day -- military families.

Gardner's record of opposing reform stands in stark contrast to Sen. Mark Udall's (D-Colo.) record. In 2010, Udall voted for the DREAM Act, which was blocked by a GOP-led filibuster. Last year, he voted for the Senate immigration reform bill that would provide a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants like me and my family.

Colorado has been of the forefront of immigration reform recently. Last year, the legislature passed -- and Governor Hickenlooper signed -- measures to allow for in-state tuition for DREAMers, driver's licenses for the undocumented community, along with the repeal of our own "show me your papers" law. Leaders across our state are working to make the lives of immigrant families better, while Cory Gardner has continued voting with anti-immigrant extremists in Washington.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post erroneously referred to Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) as Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). We regret the error. The post has been updated accordingly.