Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo, recently unveiled an immigration-reform compact carefully crafted to appeal to a bipartisan spectrum of Coloradans. Now, former Republican congressman and immigration hard-liner Tom Tancredo has released his own version of a compact.
Tancredo's document, which he calls a parody of Bennet's, is sprinkled with all-capital-letter declarations. It is in line with what he has long preached — no amnesty for any illegal immigrants, coupled with crackdowns on those in the country illegally and increased border security.
Bennet's Colorado Compact, which has been signed by more than 400 Colorado residents, including some big names in both the Republican and Democratic parties, calls for a pathway to legal status for deserving undocumented immigrants and a more flexible visa system. It also stresses national security and public safety.
Tancredo, who has become a national voice for conservative Tea Party views on immigration, calls Bennet's compact "a compilation of platitudes and weasel words."
"It is sugar-coating a plan that is generally not what most people want," he said.
Bennet's office shot back with a criticism of Tancredo's view.
"The Compact is a great demonstration of how Colorado is having a civil conversation and moving forward on this issue. The inability to understand the significance of this coalition and these principles reflects a mentality stuck in the past and soon to be irrelevant," said Bennet spokeswoman in Colorado, Kristin Lynch.
Tancredo, who served 10 years in Congress from 1999-2009 and ran for governor in 2010, also has no kind words for fellow Republicans who signed on to Bennet's compact.
High-profile Republican signers include former senator and longtime Colorado Republican Party stalwart Hank Brown; Weld County District Attorney and unsuccessful senate challenger to Bennet, Ken Buck; and University of Colorado President Bruce Benson, who was a former Colorado gubernatorial candidate and Republican Party chairman.
"They just simply, for whatever reason, have bought into this agenda that is simply designed to create amnesty and an open borders policy," he said of their support for the compact.
Bennet's compact is expected to serve as a template for immigration reform at the national level. Bennet is a member of a bipartisan group of senators negotiating immigration reform in the Senate. More Republicans have embraced immigration reform since a majority of Latino voters supported Democrats in the recent general election.