Time’s Up For Two-Faced Immigration Pandering

GOP Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

GOP Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

​During the latest round of debate over the perennially hot-button issue of immigration reform, proponents of comprehensive reform have creditably given Republicans tremendous leeway to come around on the issue. This was a pragmatic decision on the part of traditionally Democratic-aligned immigration reform proponents, hoping that growing public support for their version of reform, which would include a sensible path forward for undocumented immigrants already in the county, would push enough Republicans to the table to make progress.

To this end, immigration reform advocates were elated to see Rep. Mike Coffman, the successor to anti-immigrant firebrand Tom Tancredo in Congress, paying newfound lip service to the idea of immigration reform. Coffman has continued to make what can be best described as "surgical overtures" to immigration reform proponents, in particular calling for a path to permanent residency for undocumented students who join the military.

“These are talented, hardworking DREAMers who will strengthen our military, boost our national security, and enhance our military readiness.”

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

Notice how Coffman even uses the term "DREAMers?" The way Coffman talks about immigration reform today, you might never realize that he voted to deport those same DREAMers. So did Rep. Cory Gardner, now Colorado's Republican U.S. Senate candidate–who just this week told immigration reform protesters occupying his Greeley office:

I will continue my efforts to convince Speaker Boehner and the rest of the House to bring immigration reform legislation to the floor.

Like we said yesterday, this is the same Cory Gardner who helped kill bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform that had already passed the U.S. Senate. Cory Gardner voted to deport DREAMer students right along with Coffman, and Gardner even objected to the Justice Department's lawsuit against Arizona challenging the constitutionality of that state's SB-1070 anti-immigrant law.

This is the emerging fact: the gap between Coffman and Gardner's words on immigration reform and their deeds is becoming so wide, that for anyone who understands the issue, it's simply not believable. You just can't reconcile their statements with their actions on immigration reform, which have done absolutely nothing to advance the issue. In fact, and there's no nice way to say this, their votes make bald-faced liars of both of them.

For reform proponents who gave Coffman, and to a lesser extent Gardner lots of time and space to do the right thing, this realization has of course been painful. It proves that reform advocates cared more about advancing the issue than partisan politics, and that is to their credit. But the net result has been that both of these politicians avoided attacks that could have done real political harm to them for many months. The unfortunate lesson in all of this is that sometimes pandering works: the time Coffman and Gardner bought themselves going into their hotly competitive elections this year was invaluable.

But as the AP's Nicholas Riccardi reports, reform proponents are done being pandered to, and mad as hell.

Democrats and immigrant rights groups today are targeting Colorado as the one place where they can make Republicans suffer for their inaction on immigration. “The national focus of the immigration reform community is on Colorado,” said Patty Kupfer, managing director of the immigrant rights group America’s Voice. “This is where we’re throwing down.”

They’ll focus their efforts on the Senate battle between Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner and Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall and the congressional race, one of the most competitive in the nation, pitting Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman against former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, a Democrat.

On Friday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a prominent Democratic congressman from Illinois who is active on immigration issues, appeared at a press conference in Denver with Colorado’s two Democratic senators to mark the one-year anniversary of the failed Senate bill. He castigated House Republicans for their inaction and did not spare Udall’s challenger, Gardner…

Coffman has made a dramatic reversal on immigration since his district was redrawn in 2010. Before, he backed a proposal requiring all ballots be printed only in English and praised former congressman and immigration firebrand Tom Tancredo. Now, his new district is 20 percent Hispanic and he is studying Spanish and backing citizenship for some people brought here illegally as children. But critics note he, like Gardner, voted to repeal Obama’s executive action and he doesn’t back the Senate bill. [Pols emphasis]

Over the last few months, politically-savvy–some might call us cynical–observers have pointed out the clear evidence that the "embrace" of immigration reform by formerly hard-right Rep. Coffman was a political contrivance. In Gardner's case, there's even less real evidence that he has ever supported anything like immigration reform as proponents understand it. In both cases, recent public statements they have made in vague support of reform are completely invalidated by their voting records in Washington. The gap between pandering and reality in this case is so wide that it seems like some reporters just don't get it, and simply assume there is some greater complexity that allows these politicians to so blatantly contradict their own words.

But there's not, folks. As immigration reform advocates have belatedly realized, and hopefully the lazy local media figures out soon, this is the massive con job it appears to be. Platitudes in favor of two vague words, "immigration reform," are not enough–and actions speak louder.

39 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. skeptical citizen says:

    More Tea Party hypocrisy and deceitful lies.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      And more lazy media just uncritically passing press releases along. Do we really need this kind of redundant middle man reporter at all? What the hell do they teach to Journalism students any more?  Whatever they get paid, and I know it's not much, is still too much.

      • ct says:

        you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know – fiction!

        Stephen Colbert

      • gertie97 says:

        Reporters need editors, but nobody wants to pay editors any more. The Denver Toast is proof positive.


        • BlueCatBlueCat says:

          Editors also need something to edit. But, as you say, nobody wants to pay editors anymore.  This begs the question, why do we need reporters or editors acting as unnecessary middlemen between us and press releases? It's like paying somebody to read this stuff to us when we know how to read ourselves. What we don't have time to do is boots on the ground investigating, running down the facts behind what the pols want us to hear. If they no longer are in the business of doing that, who needs them? No wonder newspapers are dying. The best investigative reporting is now done outside the main stream print, network and local news media.

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        As a high school journalism teacher, I can partly answer your questions. Most of what we teach the first year is simply what journalism is, and how to write factually and objectively, how to quote, what the first amendment does and doesn't cover, etc.

        The rest of the time is often spent analyzing bias in reporting, deconstructing the news, and taking baby steps to become news writers.

        At the same time, often, journalism teachers have an unpaid or low-stipend job editing all of the student publications – the yearbook, the school newspaper, the literary magazine even.  I did that for four years in Denver. As a policy, DPS paid no stipend for yearbook or newspaper sponsors.  So journalism teachers are tired.

        So, if a journalism teacher is lucky enough to get a group of talented and committed student writers and editors, sometimes those students can run with it and produce decent publications, and even go into journalism careers. The first amendment does protect the rights of student journalists to publish opinions and news, even if the school administrations would prefer to suppress them.

        At the college level, my guess is that the same process takes place, at higher levels of proficiency. My hunch is that the blame for shoddy and shallow news reporting doesn't lie with the teachers and classes, nor even with the student journalists.  Instead, multimedia technology is killing off newspapers and even TV and radio broadcasting. We don't really know what "the news" will look like in 10 years.

        The new media is blurring news, advertising, and entertainment, and news now must compete with flashy internet  mini-news stories. The deeply researched, multiply-sourced story about, say, corporate profits from military recruitment must compete with the latest cute talking cat video, and the kitty will probably win more audience "hits".

        • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

          MamaJ, I didn't know what you taught. I was a dedicated high school J student. Our advisor was the best teacher I ever had. I remeber some nose-to-nose shouting matches between Miss Hayes and the Principal. That was before the more recent rulings in favor of high school journalists. We were relying on Tinker v Des Moines and the First Amendment for our right to occasionally print the uncomfortable (for the administration) truth. 

  2. DavieDavie says:

    You certainly wouldn't get that impression reading this morning's Denver Post.  A newbie reporter, Corrie Sahling, covered this same press conference and left with the impression that Gardner is a long-time (summer of 2013!) champion of immigration reform, and Udall has absolutely nothing over on Cory on this topic!


    Oh well, more inch-deep coverage (if not deliberately misleading) from the Post that I've come to expect.

  3. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Let the shitstorm begin. Immigration activists are ramping up the pressure.

    The Senate has just passed a compromise bill which provides for worker's rights, reuniting families, a path to citizenship, and in a sop to conservatives, $46 Billion in a "border surge" which will ramp up border security.

    No word on what all of those guns, towers, drones, and tanks will do for families trying to cross the border to get away from criminal gangs in their home countries. However, the Senate compromise language does provide for

    However, advocates won a number of positive measures, including mandatory use of force rules and training for Border Patrol agents, prohibition of racial profiling, and accountability procedures for civil and human rights violations.

    So, it's progress. To do your part, Call Tipton, Lamborn, Gardner, and ask them to support the House "Gang of Eight" Bill 744 on Comprehensive Immigration Reform . The Democratic Colorado Representatives, Degette, Udall, Perlmutter, Polis, already support comprehensive immigration reform including a path to citizenship, but you can call them, too, to encourage them not to backslide.

    Congress is only in session until July 31, so there isn't much time, nor much hope, as Pols correctly notes in the post. However, if these Republican legislators don't want to commit political suicide, for their own careers, and that of their party, they need to step up.

    • exlurker19 says:

      I noticed you didn't mention Coffman.  Where's he on the Gang of Eight bill?  I'm assuming against, but he might be more savvy than that (or have more savvy advisors).

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      "no word on what all of those guns, towers, drones, and tanks will do for families trying to cross the border to get away from criminal gangs in their home countries."

      Sorry, but the USA can't solve all the world's problems. These people need to stay in their own countries and solve those problems themselves. All the kids now flooding the border areas need to be deported. Sounds heartless, but where does it all stop.

      For the 11 million, estimated, already here, a path to eventual citizenship. None of the far right loony tunes have a clue on how to get rid of 11 million people anyway other than loud talk to "secure the border." And how many more billions are going to be wasted on the border.

      • ct says:

        My solution: Send the Wingnut Norquistian Bathtub Brigade and its Tea party minions to Somalia where they can acheive their Randian paradise, and that will free up the room for these kids, many the indirect victims of our Norte Americano drug addictions.  

        • ct says:

          Its what people in my line of work call a "win-win'win."  Weak central government and strong local militias? Somalia has all that!  Perfect for the Bathtub Brigade and their gundamentalist stooges!  More 'room' to be compassionate (as directed by our nation's predominant faith, most especially to the 'least among us.').  And, finally, a return to sensibility and being able to get things done: like ensuring that all Americans have affordable, adequate heath care, Carbon is priced to ensure that externalities are better paid for in the bottom line, and adults can marry whom they love without being subjected to hatred and political attack.  Win. Win. Win.  Hell, I oughta be President with solutions like that!  

      • ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

        Conserv. Head Banger,

        Nobody is asking the US to solve "all the world's problems" in this debate.  What people are asking is that purported conservatives stop having big government ICE agents break families apart that are here to make an honest living.  You can't get much more big government than that. 

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          Elliot: most of the kids coming in seem to be coming alone, and not with families. When undocumented aliens try to break into the USA, separation of families is a risk that they assume. It's not up to the USA to try and solve their problems.

          • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

            Most of these kids are victims of people who have taken or aspire to take advantage of them. Not many of them got the idea all by themselves. Some are coming to join families of relatives who are better able to care for them than whoever is responsible for them at home.

            Truly, from the coverage I have seen, they prefer custody in the US to life in _______.

            • Conserv. Head Banger says:

              And exactly how is the USA supposed to fix problems of victimhood in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, which seem to be the countries of origin for most of these kids?  As I mentioned in a prior post, we can't fix the world's problems, and I would add, we also can't, nor should be expected to, take in everyone who wants to be here.

              • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

                Except, CHB, that we (meaning the CIA, meaning covert operations by US military, meaning looking the other way while corporations brutalized the local people) caused many of these conditions in these Central American countries.

                Colombia, Nicaragua, and El Salvador for sure. Yes, corruption has always been a problem – but when these countries had their own uprisings and revolutions to correct corrupt regimes, the good old USA helped to suppress these movements!

                I would think a conservative libertarian would NOT want the US to interfere with other governments' decisions.

                If you care, I can put up links about it, but just google

                CIA Guatemala, CIA Honduras, etc. Or Iran Contra Sandinistas, Daniel Ortega Nicaragua. You get the idea.

                • ct says:

                  El Norte's addictions are fueling the gangs, and our 6 decades of proxy wars in the region have been in large part responsbile for the conditions down there.  Our connection to other nations, and our compassion, does not simply stop at the Rio Grande.  If we push things like NAFTA then we accepot a global respsonsibilty for what our actions, addictions, and activites encourage in that theater.  

                • Conserv. Head Banger says:

                  (Response to MamaJama on 6/30) Yeah, Guatemala in 1954. I was barely born at that time. Things were different in the '50s with the "red scare" and all that. I do recall the num coming into our classroom in 1957 to tell us how great it was that Austrian border guards had killed several Hungarian soldiers who chased people into Austria. As long as it the other guy who does the dyin'…..

                  Nicaragua & the Contras: so the country traded the Somoza family dictatorship for the Sandinista dictatorship. More "red scare" with Ortega's cozying up with Cuba. Ortega has fixed things so that he could be another Hugo Chavez and remain in office indefinitely. Can't blame the CIA for everything.

                  Those who are not in favor of corporations "brutalizing" populations in Central America can boycott the products like bananas, coffee, fruits, etc.  

                  • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

                    Conditions are not ideal from a  human rights perspective in Nicaragua, certainly not in Venezuela or Cuba. Still, people have access to basic health care and education, wages are improving. It's a "lesser evil" approach, which I don't even like when we're talking about our own governor. But the Somoza dictatorship was far worse, aided and abetted by CIA and School of the Americas. I recommend Francis Moore Lappe's book "Now We Can Speak" for a view of Nicaragua in 1982, a few years into the Ortega regime.

                    As far as buying coffee and bananas, it's true that consumers need to know more about what they buy than just "it's organic" or "it's cheap". I try to buy "Fair Trade Certified" products – at least I know the farmer is getting a decent share of the profits.

      • Urban Snowshoer says:

        There is no realistic way to systematically track down and deport millions of people, while remaining a relatively free and open society. So what do you do with the people already here–you're not going to deport them all–let a permanent underclass develop?

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          Urban:  that's my point about the 11 million already here. I occasionally post also on a right wing blog (got to have balance in my life  😉  ). I have asked a number of times how the anti-immigrants would deal with the 11 million? As in, maybe sending the military door-to-door or block-to-block?  They never have an answer other than to accuse me of being a "troll."  There has to be a path to eventual citizenship for these people. 

          • BlueCatBlueCat says:

            That's something all sensible people ought to be able to agree on unless they're just posturing. No matter where any of us stand on immigration issues, nobody with an iota of sense can possibly believe a permanently alienated underclass is a  workable solution. But if the right admits that 11 million can't be rounded up and deported and aren't going to self deport, then they'll have to drop the obstruction and work across the aisle to solve a problem and the right's agenda doesn't include solving anything they can continue to use to rally their pathetic base. 

            You get similar non-responses when you ask the anti-choice zealots what penalties they plan to institute if they ever manage to get full rights for fertilized eggs. Will they put women and their doctors in prison for life or execute them for murder one if they plan and carry out abortions? Use birth control methods they deem abortifacient? Because that's what an abortion or the use of the allegedly abortifacient birth control methods would be, premeditated murder. They aren't fond of thinking things through to logical conclusions. Hysteria for hysteria's sake works so much better for them in appealing to their bigoted, xenophobic, paranoid, whiny, hypocritical, self righteous base.  


      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

        These people need to stay in their own countries and solve those problems themselves.

        No doubt something Cochise or Geronimo said at one point or another…

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      No word on what all of those guns, towers, drones, and tanks will do for families trying to cross the border to get away from criminal gangs in their home countries.


      Nothing, I trow. But it will do great things for the companies who make the war machines, the lawyers and lobbyists who represent them, and the legislators who rent themselves out to said companies.

      $46,000,000,000 dollars ain't hay…

  4. davebarnesdavebarnes says:

    "Time’s Up For Two-Faced Immigration Pandering"
    No, it is not.
    It is always time for pandering. You just do it.

  5. ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

    It is actually different than what you are all saying. What is going on is that everytime the mainstream GOP tries to dump its nativist-faction significant other, it gets cold feet when the nativist significant other makes all sorts of threats.  

    About a year and a half ago, I had hope the GOP might actually dump its nativist on/off again relationship.  Unfortunately, it keeps going back to a partner that it knows is no good for it. 

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      I think an intervention (by voters) is required to disrupt this abusive relationship.

      • ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

        That is what is likely to occur eventually

        • DavieDavie says:

          With the bill still in the House, and only the month of July to act on it, it'll be interesting to see how Coffman and Gardner spin their new positions and possible votes (if Boehner even allows a vote).

          If there is no risk of it passing, then I'm sure they will both loudly pretend to want "an improved" version of it to pass.  "Unfortunately, those pesky Democrats only want to grant amnesty and keep our borders wide open"

          It'll be just more lip service to give the Denver Post a fig leaf to praise them both for the "great" job they are doing "fighting" for immigration reform.

          • itlduso says:

            I would advise Gardner and Coffman to prove their passion for immigration reform by occupying Boehner's office demanding a vote.

            • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

              itlduso, It is supposed to be cooler this afternoon, but not enough for Hell to freeze over. Only in that event would I expect Gardner and Coffman to bestir themselves for the undocumented residents of their respective districts. 

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