PLAYER PROFILE

Ken Buck

Republican Congressman from Colorado | Ranking Member of House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship

Ken Buck has been a Republican member of Congress since 2015, but his hawkish record on immigration predates his election to federal office. In 2004, after becoming District Attorney of Weld County, Colorado, one of his first official acts was to seize more than 5,000 files from a private tax service that he suspected was selling social security numbers to undocumented immigrants — a seizure the Colorado Supreme Court ultimately found unconstitutional.

A member of the Tea Party Caucus representing one of the most conservative congressional districts in Colorado, Buck has continued to assail undocumented immigrants as the top Republican on the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship. In February of 2020, along with Senator Marsha Blackburn, Buck introduced the Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act, which would have withheld federal grants for states that “shield criminal immigrants from deportation” and give driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Just three months later, he introduced the No Bailouts for Illegal Aliens Act, which sought to prohibit state and local governments from providing any cash assistance to undocumented immigrants during the Covid pandemic. Buck has co-sponsored legislation to take away federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities and supported President Trump’s use of a national emergency to gain funding for border wall construction. 

While his immigration policy positions aligned with the Trump administration in the vast majority of cases, Buck did, on occasion, break with the former president. In July of 2019, after visiting a detention center at the southern border, he said, “As a person, it pains me to see individuals in this kind of crowded condition.” And in October of 2019, the congressman sent a letter to then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging the Trump administration to uphold “our nation’s longstanding commitment to assist refugees.” In a public statement released at the same time, Buck said, “As a Christian, I believe we should assist those who are forced to flee their homes, and as Americans, I believe we should do everything we can to assist these refugees around the world.” 

When it comes to assisting undocumented people already in the U.S. however, Buck has been, as noted above, a strong opponent. In May 2020, Buck introduced a bill that would prohibit federal coronavirus relief money to any state or city unless it certified that no undocumented immigrants would be “targeted exclusively” to receive benefits. He said then, “With more than 40 million Americans out of work, it is unfair to send hard-earned taxpayer dollars to non-citizens who entered this country illegally. We need to prioritize the American people by making sure taxpayers are not subsidizing blue states’ plans to give cash payments to ‘illegal’ immigrants.”

SOURCES:

Buck’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    Buck consistently states that fixing the country’s broken immigration system begins with border security. In a statement on his 2010 campaign website he said, “First, we have to secure the border to stop the flow of illegal immigration. It is essential to our security that we curb the number [of] undocumented immigrants coming into our country.” Buck has reiterated this position in each of his successive campaigns.

  • Border Wall

    Buck has consistently voiced support for a border wall. He voted against overturning President Trump’s national emergency declaration, which diverted military funds toward construction of the wall.

  • Detention

    Buck has been critical of the heavy use of detention centers, criticizing the crowded conditions and saying that he is worried about the strain the facilities put on medical and judicial systems in the communities where they are located.

  • Immigration Courts

    At a February 2020 congressional hearing regarding the backlog of over 1 million cases in the immigration court system, Buck said the issue was not a lack of judges or more funding but rather the volume of migrants caught crossing the border without authorization. At the hearing, Buck told immigration experts that, “Not one of you mentioned the cause of why we’re here, and that is people breaking our law and crossing our border. The truth is the backlog is caused by more illegal immigrants coming into this country and ending up in your court.” In spite of this systemic concern, Buck has publically supported increased funding to the court system to address the backlog.

  • Undocumented Population

    Buck has said that the country needs to “stand firm and say ‘no’ to amnesty,” or a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented population that is already in the country.

  • ICE

    Buck has supported increased funding to ICE to address “pay shortfall” and to be used for “human trafficking investigation costs.” He supported a 2019 bill that would create a “national instant” criminal background check system to notify ICE of firearm transfer denials by reason of illegal or unlawful presence in the U.S.

  • DACA

    Buck opposed President Obama’s creation of the DACA program and said it was up to Congress to write a law to address the issue of those who were brought into the U.S. as minors. In 2019, he voted against the DREAM Act, which would give DACA recipients a pathway to permanent legal residency.

  • Asylum

    After the Trump administration announced it would limit refugee resettlements to 18,000 in 2020 — the lowest amount in modern history — Buck issued a statement calling for more resettlements, citing his Christian faith as the driver for his position.

  • Central America Policy

    Buck has been a vocal proponent of strengthening ties with the governments in Central America. After a visit to Guatemala in the summer of 2018, the congressman penned an op-ed in which he said, “Guatemala is a strategic partner for the U.S. From military and intelligence cooperation to free and fair trade deals, we should work to strengthen ties with this Central American nation so they can withstand the pressure of Russia and China and avoid the trap that their Marxist neighbors are falling into,” referencing moves by the governments of El Salvador, Panama, and Nicaragua to tighten their relationships with China and Russia.

  • Visas

    Buck has consistently supported legislation to increase employer access to foreign workers. During his 2010 run for the Senate, he said, “Immigration is essential for the U.S. economy. Illegal immigration is wrong.” In 2017, Buck wrote the Visa Pilot Program Act with Senator Ron Johnson to create a visa program that gives states a much larger role in managing immigration based on local needs. The rationale behind the bill was that different parts of the country have different labor demands and state leaders are in the best position to assess local economic conditions. Under the drafted legislation the number of visas available would be determined by the federal government and indexed to economic growth. The bill included eligibility restrictions, to prevent foreign workers from taking advantage of the program, and required that states bear the responsibility of confirming eligibility. The bill also allowed workers to change jobs so that they would not be exploited.