U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) Tuesday announced his support of legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children to live, work, and go to school in the U.S. despite his record of opposing such legislation at the federal level as well as a similar state law.
Following Tuesday’s announcement that the Trump administration would end the Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months, giving Congress a window to either pass long-term immigration reform or put nearly 800,000 young immigrants at risk of deportation, Gardner said he’d back legislation to keep those immigrants in the country under the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would place DACA protections into law.
But when Gardner was a member of the House of Representatives in 2013, he voted in favor of an amendment to the Homeland Security appropriations bill that would have prohibited DACA from being implemented.
Gardner has also been a long-time opponent of Colorado’s Advancing Students for a Stronger Tomorrow (ASSET) law, which allows colleges and universities to let so-called “Dreamers” pay the in-state tuition. Gardner told KNUS radio host Steve Kelley back in 2012 that ASSET “sets the wrong kind of message” for immigrant communities, and stipulated that the issue of border security must be resolved to his unspecified satisfaction before the question of Dreamers can be addressed.
“I oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. I think it’s the wrong policy. It sets the wrong kind of message to people who are in the country illegally. And I think we’ve got to work on border security before anything else.”
Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking to know if he now supports offering in-state tuition to young immigrants, nor has he explained the reasons behind his apparent shift in views on immigration. But perhaps it has something to do with his long-standing desire for more border security.
On KNUS’ Dan Caplis show yesterday, Gardner suggested that a solution for Dreamers would go hand-in-hand with an increase in border security:
“What I look at it as is people who believe we should have an immigration fix believe that we need to address it for children who were brought here through no fault of their own, they believe we need to fix border security. Even the ‘Gang of Eight’ Senate bill that was voted on in the Senate in 2013, I believe it was had border security increases in it. So I hope that this is part of a natural dialogue when it comes to what should be a good immigration policy that this country can set.”
What Gardner doesn’t mention in his conversation with Caplis is that he actually opposed the 2013 “Gang of Eight” bill, which was passed with bipartisan support in the Senate but never went to a vote in the House of Representatives. The bill would have overhauled the U.S. immigration system, and as Gardner said, did include border security increases.
And yet those increases, namely the allocation of billions of dollars and implementation of enforcement requirements, were apparently not sufficient for Gardner at the time, who vowed to block the bill if it went to a vote.
Gardner has long worked to brand himself as a supporter of immigration reform, and even mischaracterized his opposition to the DREAM act in a 2015 interview. That, combined with his record of prioritizing border security above all else, calls into question how devoted he’ll actually be when it comes to passing legislation that protects Dreamers from deportation, especially with Trump’s border wall apparently on the table.