The Californian: Denham throws support behind immigration bill
Central California Congressman Jeff Denham has partnered with a Florida Democrat to introduce a bipartisan immigration reform bill into the House in an attempt to break the logjam created by partisan squabbling.
The Turlock Republican announced Monday he is co-sponsoring HR-15, a comprehensive immigration bill introduced by Florida Democrat Joe Garcia. This bill contains much of the same language as the bipartisan Senate version passed this summer.
Denham is the first Republican to co-sponsor the House bill.
HR-15 includes a path to citizenship, a component the Tea Party wing of the House GOP has had conniption fits over. House Republicans have said they want to pursue an immigration overhaul in a step-by-step manner, addressing different aspects of the issue with smaller, individual bills. Some have indicated, for example, that they support granting citizenship for immigrants who were brought to America as small children and grew up here.
But the Senate bill and the new House bill is anything but easy on undocumented immigrants.
“We can’t afford any more delays,” Denham said in a conference call with reporters Monday. “I support an earned path to citizenship to allow those who want to become citizens to demonstrate a commitment to our country, learn English, pay fines and back taxes and pass background checks.
“This is a common-sense solution to our broken system.”
Denham’s support comes at the same time a large contingent of reform proponents traveled to Washington to advocate for a comprehensive bill. Among the lobbying coalition members are Rick Tomlinson, president of the Watsonville-based Strawberry Commission who is leading the California delegation, and state Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Republican and Democratic senators – the so-called “Gang of Eight” – earned widespread support in the Salinas Valley. Growers here have been hard hit with labor shortages many ascribe to the failure of Congress to enact a functional immigration bill.
Among the bill’s champions are organizations that in the past have been on opposite sides of policy debates but have come together over the immigration issue, including the Monterey County Farm Bureau, the United Farm Workers union and the Salinas-based Grower-Shipper Association of Central California.
“This week’s event brings together the broadest imaginable cross-section of America,” said the Strawberry Commission’s Tomlinson. “From every state and every walk of life, our communities are saying we need immigration reform now.”