The board of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA) voted unanimously Tuesday to support Colorado-based immigration reform efforts.
Business leaders agreed to support “The Colorado Compact,” a statewide effort led by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet to craft federal immigration reform. It had already drawn support from Gov. John Hickenlooper, other business organizations, educators, farmers and law enforcement officials.
The short document states Colorado law enforcement officials should focus on criminal activity, not enforcing civil immigration laws, among other principles. It calls for federal solutions to the immigration problem, to strengthen border security and simultaneously allow immigrants to continue working. It also specifically calls for policies that will not break up families through deportation.
“Immigrants are integrated into communities across Colorado,” the current draft of the compact reads. “We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors.”
Outgoing ACRA Chairman Warren Klug, in recent years, has led the local business community’s call for federal legislation that would allow undocumented workers to gain a legal working status. He has lobbied Colorado’s congressional delegation and met with White House staffers on the issue.
Klug has championed immigration reform on a local, state and national level in recent years. He officially finished his term as chairman of the board of the chamber Tuesday, with Gant general manager Donnie Lee taking his place.
Lee urged his fellow board members to continue reform efforts.
“It’s going to take time,” he said. “We have to continue to bang the drum.”
Like many immigration reform advocates, Lee conceded Tuesday that there would not likely be significant legislative progress on it until after the national 2012 elections, due to its divisive, controversial nature.
The Aspen Skiing Co. had already endorsed the compact’s reforms, said company Vice President David Perry. He encouraged board members to be vocal about their support for improving immigration laws, in the media and with ACRA members.
“Let’s stand up and say we support it,” he told the board.
A March survey of ACRA members found that 71 percent of local business owners support the chamber’s efforts to reform immigration laws.
The board last summer voted to support business-friendly reform of immigration laws. Tuesday’s vote signals a move toward advocating more specific measures.
The compact itself is modeled after a popular guiding document drafted in Utah, where the state legislature adopted it and used it for a balanced approach to state immigration reform.
Klug noted Tuesday that there are members of the Colorado legislature seeking to pass harsh immigration laws like the ones in effect in Alabama and Arizona.
“Those have not been helpful,” Klug said.
Some have complained those laws are draconian and inhumane. Klug said the Colorado Compact would show lawmakers that there is broad support for less harsh but business-friendly citizenship laws.