Some people do not like to talk about values in politics. I believe our political values say something not only about where we believe our government can do better, but about us as individuals. I am not talking about using government to enforce a moral code. But I am talking about the moral implications of government policy.
I was ashamed to see Mike Miles endorse Andrew Romanoff. Mike Miles built his campaign on his courageous opposition to Bush’s war in Iraq. To see Mike Miles uncritically praise Andrew Romanoff, who twice endorsed the war and commended George Bush for waging it, is shameful. And doing so after he attacked Joan Fitz-Gerald over the same votes in 2008, destroys any and all of Mike Miles’s credibility.
But Mike’s email also talks about his care for “the needs of real people.” Once again, Mike Miles can only issue a blessing of Andrew Romanoff if he ignores the man’s horrific record in the state house when he led the way to demagogue and demonize undocumented individuals in our state–both citizen and non-citizen.
Andrew Romanoff was the driving force of the 2006 Special Session that was called in order to pass anti-immigrant legislation, and for no other purpose. In the Be The Change debate, Andrew Romanoff blatantly and cynically tried to whitewash his collaboration with John Andrews in killing DREAM Act legislation in Colorado.
Andrew Romanoff in 2006, as the Colorado Co-Chair of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC):
“This year, Colorado passed more bills to curb illegal immigration than any other non-border state in the nation. We did more to solve the problem of illegal immigration than Congress has done in a decade.”
Andrew Romanoff in 2010, at the Be The Change Forum:
“In the Colorado legislature we killed a measure that would have denied citizenship to children who were here with their parents who didn’t have government documentation”
And he says nothing–let alone apologizes for–voting to kill in-state tuition? Or for passing his bill HB-1023–a financial and moral disaster? For for hurting our most vulnerable citizens when they needed help? Or for the entire 2006 Special Session? It leaves me with the belief that Andrew Romanoff has become just another cynical politician who will say anything to get ahead.
Since December, a public email from a Colorado immigration rights attorney who actually fights for “real people” has been spread widely to caring individuals who believe in upholding human dignity. It needs to be shared. Some things need to be said. I will paste it below.
I wish I could share the enthusiasm for Mr. Romanoff, but since I spend seven days a week counseling families whose lives have been completely destroyed by inhumane immigration laws, including those passed in 2006 in Colorado , I refuse to endorse Mr. Romanoff.
Mr. Romanoff is no friend to immigrants. That pleases some, but it should offend any of you who value human rights, human dignity, family unity, tolerance and justice. He has demonstrated, on more than one occasion, that he is willing to sacrifice immigrants and families of immigrants, (which include US citizens) for political gain. For example, in 2004/2005 he pledged his support to immigrants and their allies as we worked long and hard to obtain driver’s licenses for immigrants in Colorado . (Including speaking at a large immigrants rights conference in Denver , where he clearly stated, to great applause, his commitment to immigrant rights and that he would work with us to get licenses) At the last minute he totally betrayed us, without even an apology, and did nothing to support the campaign or introduce legislation.
But you can’t top the 2006 legislative session, which produced a set of laws deemed “the toughest immigration legislation in the nation” and was praised by anti-immigrants as “the best [legislation] that could be obtained under the circumstances”. (Defend Colorado Now website). Thousands of Colorado residents continue to suffer under these repressive laws, which deny immigrants everything from a fishing license to heating assistance, lead to increased arrests, detentions and human rights violations of undocumented people in Colorado, gave legitimacy to immigrant bashing which results in increased hate crimes, and have caused hardships for poor families and individuals, including the elderly, the homeless, and veterans throughout the state.
As one researcher noted, “virtually all close observers of Colorado ‘s 2006 summer immigration episode agree that it was all about politics, not policy. Over and over both legislators and pundits called the special session a “circus” and a “charade”. (See John A. Straayer, CSU, Making Policy in the Dark) Romanoff was a leader in this debacle, considers it a feather in his political cap, and congratulated himself and others on passing the “toughest illegal immigration package in the nation.” (See Romanoff quoted in Denver Business Journal, 7/11/2006)
I find the Colorado laws passed in 2006 to be nothing short of a political attack on immigrants resulting in a waste of time and money and causing harm to the community. Romanoff’s role in this is indefensible.
Senator Bennet has demonstrated that he has the courage to speak his values and beliefs on issues affecting immigrants. Since coming into office he has publicly stated his support for things like immigration reform, despite his precarious political position. In fact, he has said that he will risk his political position in order to do the right thing on immigration and immigration reform. THIS is what we need in a politician, someone with the courage to stand up for what is right regardless of what it does for their career, and whose concern is policy, not politics. We do not need someone who has already demonstrated that he will sell out the most vulnerable for political gain.
Kimberly Baker Medina