Colorado Senators Bennet, Gardner Introduce Immigration Compromise Bill

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Photo: Colorado Senators Gardner & Bennet | Official Portraits
Colorado's Senators, Republican Cory Gardner and Democrat Michael Bennet.

Colorado U.S. Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet have introduced a bill they call compromise legislation in the heated debate over border security.

The plan includes a 12-year path to citizenship for people brought to the United States illegally when they were children -- so-called "Dreamers" -- and $25 billion for border security that includes President Trump's request for border wall funding.

"Both of us support a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers, and both of us support border security," Bennet, a Democrat, said in an interview.

Gardner, a Republican, added the bill is about trying to find a way forward.

"The goal here is 279 people in support of our effort," Gardner said. "That means we get 60 votes in the Senate. That means we get 218 votes in the U.S. House — and we get one person at 1600 Pennsylvania to sign the bill."

The measure is one of a handful being considered after the Senate voted Monday to begin debate on immigration earlier this week. The process could lead to a bipartisan immigration fix, NPR says, "or leave Congress with no solution for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who stand to lose legal protections by March 5."

"There are a lot of other security measures on the border that, over many years, I've been persuaded are important to securing the southern border including fencing and technology. My hope is that the president comes to see those things as more useful and economical than the proposed wall," Bennet said.

Gardner said he's spoken with other Republicans who were supportive of provisions in the bill. But he could not say if any of them had committed to support the legislation.

Bennet drew comparisons between his bill and 2013 bipartisan legislation that passed the Senate. The House refused to take up that bill — an outcome Bennet said he hopes to avoid this time around. But conservative House members have already given Speaker Paul Ryan a directive to hold the line on immigration.

Bennet said Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate are currently discussing which bills will be put forth for a vote, possibly on Thursday.