Tipton: DACA repeal chance to tackle immigration reform

Congressman Scott Tipton speaks before a gathering of Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association members Monday at the Hotel Denver.
John Stroud | Post Independent

The Trump administration’s directive to Congress to deal with individuals who came to the United States as children, brought illegally by their parents, is a chance to do so with “compassion,” says Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton.

Likewise, it’s a chance to achieve the kind of broad immigration reform that might prevent the situation from playing out again in the future, Tipton said Monday before a gathering of Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association members.

“We can deal with this compassionately when it comes to the folks who are already here, and my office has been consistent about that,” said Tipton, who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that he is reversing the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which allowed young immigrants who met certain requirements to stay in the U.S. to work or go to college.

Trump has given Congress six months to come up with a solution for those who were covered under DACA, but any legislation is also likely to include broader immigration reform and stronger border controls.

“We do need to make sure we aren’t just continuing to replicate that same problem over and over again,” Tipton said of young immigrants, known as Dreamers, who came as young children to the U.S. and grew up here.

Tipton points to another visit to Glenwood Springs five years ago when a young man approached him and explained that he didn’t know he wasn’t American until he turned 16 and tried to get a driver’s license.

“This is where, in my estimate, we must have compassion,” Tipton said. “But in addressing this, we have to make sure that 10, 15 or 20 years down the road there isn’t another young man coming up to whoever the congressman is at that time and saying, ‘I didn’t know I wasn’t an American.’”

Tipton’s comments came as a small group of about 20 people rallied outside the Hotel Denver where he spoke, encouraging him to support those who had benefited under DACA.

Tipton said he has not yet reviewed the Dream Act of 2017 that is cosponsored by his Colorado colleagues in the Senate, Republican Cory Gardner and Democrat Michael Bennet. The bill would allow young immigrants to stay and contribute, while offering a pathway to “earned citizenship.”

Tipton was joined by state Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, as part of the chamber’s Up Close and Personal with Your Legislators event.

Both lawmakers addressed the current situation with health care and health insurance costs after Congress’ failed attempt earlier this year to repeal and replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Colorado can’t wait for Congress and the federal government to address the issue, Rankin said.

“We’re being a little too passive on this,” Rankin said of impacts ranging from private insurance costs and a lack of carriers in rural Colorado, to the costs of expanded Medicaid that came with the Affordable Care Act.

Rankin continues his support for a single, statewide insurance rate system, rather than the zoned rate system that the state adopted. Doing so might mean Boulder and Denver would pay 5 percent more for insurance, but costs would go down about 25 percent within House District 57, he said.

Regarding Medicaid, Rankin noted that 25 percent of the state’s population, or 1.3 million people, are on Medicaid. But there is little incentive for working adults to take a raise or get a better-paying job if it means they’re suddenly ineligible for Medicaid and hit with high insurance premiums and deductibles.

Rankin said he supports a “stair-step” approach that would allow people to begin paying for a portion of their health insurance in smaller increments.

On the federal front, Tipton said the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, and any reforms are in the Senate’s hands after the House passed a reconciliation bill that put limitations on what can and can’t be included in any new health care legislation.

Four bills are awaiting action, including ones to allow consumers to buy insurance across state lines, another that would empower health associations to negotiate lower rates and more-flexible plans, and one that would tackle tort reform, which could help reduce health-care costs.

A fourth bill that’s before the Senate would apply whatever health care-related rules end up being the law of the land for consumers, to also apply to members of the House and Senate as well, Tipton said to applause from the chamber gathering.

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