Democratic United States Senate candidate Bob Kerrey said today’s United States Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s immigration law creates urgency for Congress to act on the issue.
Kerrey, during a conference call with reporters, said he sees merit in a recent proposal outlined by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“I’m urging the Democrats to support bringing the Romney plan to the floor in the Senate and begin the debate,” Kerrey stated.
Kerrey said the current immigration law, approved in 1986, needs to be updated. Though he objects to portions of Romney’s plan, Kerrey said the plan outlined by Romney in a recent speech would be a vast improvement over current federal policy. He suggested it could be a starting point for debate on the issue.
Kerrey avoided criticism of Arizona, which became the focal point of the immigration debate when it approved a tough immigration policy. He said he understood the state’s frustration in the lack of action on the federal level. Still, Kerrey insisted immigration is a federal policy and said that the country should not have 50 different sets of rules for people wanting to enter the country.
The Supreme Court ruled that states might play only a limited role in enforcing immigration laws. The court ruled the Arizona law encroached on federal authority. It did uphold, at least for now, a provision that requires police officers to review the immigration status of anyone arrested or detained if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is an illegal immigrant.
Kerrey said recent action by President Obama, the policy outlined by Romney and proposals suggested by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida provide a background in which Democrats and Republicans could reach agreement on immigration.
President Obama has directed the Department of Homeland Security to halt the deportation of illegal immigrants brought into the United States as children, a move that could affect 800,000 people. Romney outlined a proposal to provide a path to citizenship for persons in the country illegally. Sen. Rubio withdrew a proposal after Obama bypassed Congress and used his executive powers to implement his policy.
Good policy should focus on hard work, according to Kerrey.
“I think the key question is: is someone willing to work and obey our laws? Because, if they are that’s good for us, that’s a benefit to us,” Kerrey said. “What you’re looking for is a win-win situation, something that’s a win for our community and a win for the individual.”
AUDIO: Democratic US Senate candidate Bob Kerrey reacts to Supreme Court immigration ruling. [2:20]