Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today urged his Senate colleagues to support a bill that would provide emergency aid to fight wildfires and to address the refugee crisis. The bill includes $615 million in emergency firefighting funds for the U.S. Forest Service, $2.73 billion to address the crisis of unaccompanied children seeking refuge along the U.S.-Mexico border, and $225 million for Israel to procure additional Iron Dome interceptors.
“Colorado is all too familiar with the increasing threat that wildfires pose to our forests, our communities, and our livelihoods. Fires are burning across the West, and we need to make these emergency resources available as soon as possible to prevent even more catastrophic damage,” Bennet said. “This bill will help save lives and protect property and natural resources.
“Additionally, we have thousands of children on our doorstep seeking to escape dangerous and deplorable situations in countries in Central America. The influx has overwhelmed our ability to process the status of these kids in a timely manner. This bill will help border agents do their job to protect the border and to care for and safely return these children to their home countries. While this funding is crucial to help alleviate the current crisis, it reminds us of the need for Congress to pass a bill fixing our broken immigration system that would have better prepared us for this crisis,” Bennet added.
Bennet has led efforts in Congress to help Colorado communities mitigate the risk of wildfire and secure resources to fight fires. He also has worked to help Colorado communities rebuild and repair watersheds in the wake of recent wildfires and other natural disasters.
Bennet is a member of the bipartisan “Group of 8” that introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 last April following several months of discussions and negotiations with a diverse group of stakeholders. The bill secures our borders, includes a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, makes reforms to an outdated visa system to ensure businesses have access to the workers they need, and includes important worker protections. The Senate passed the bill last June.
Bennet’s work on the bill was informed by a statewide conversation on immigration he led that produced a set of principles called the Colorado Compact. Hundreds of statewide leaders spanning the political, business, law enforcement, agricultural, civic, and religious spectrums signed the Compact.