DENVER (CBS4) – Immigration activists are targeting four Colorado congressmen home for the Fourth of July recess.
The Republican lawmakers are key votes in the House where the GOP is divided over a bill passed by the Senate last week. It includes a path to citizenship for 11 million people in the U.S. illegally. Now pressure is mounting on House Republicans to bring the bill to the floor.
“The clock is ticking and it’s the U.S. House of Representatives’ move,” said Julien Ross with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition at a rally on Tuesday.
Outside the Denver Republican Party headquarters supporters of immigration reform turned up the heat on Colorado’s congressional delegation.
“Latinos care about comprehensive immigration reform, Latinos are an educated electorate and Latinos do vote,” Olivia Mendoza with the Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization said.
But in the House, GOP leadership says the Senate bill is dead on arrival, and Colorado’s Republican congressmen aren’t objecting.
Rep. Cory Gardner says the bill doesn’t go far enough on border security. It adds 20,000 guards, 700 miles of new fence, drones, radar and ground sensors.
“My problem with the Senate bill is not the amount of money they’re throwing at it, but that the federal government isn’t committed to other border legislation,” Rep. Mike Coffman said in a statement.
“Those who won’t vote for it in the House are hiding behind skirts of security,” Rachel Kleinfeld with the Truman National Security Center said.
Kleinfeld says 40 percent of people in the U.S. illegally came here on visas. According to her, the best way to increase security is to give them a way to become legal — to pay taxes, report crimes and stop trafficking.
Wendy Warner, chair of the Denver GOP, met with the activists but was non-committal.
“I think we have to look at all of the specifics,” she told the group.
Still, the activists say momentum is on their side.
“Frankly we’ve seen hearts and minds have changed across Colorado. We now see the broadest coalition voicing support for immigration reform we’ve ever seen,” Ross said. “I think we’re going to get across the finish line this year.”
House Speaker John Boehner has called a closed door meeting next week with rank and file Republicans to map out their strategy on immigration reform.