At Least It’s Not Your Incredibly Racist Primary…Yet

Georgia GOP gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams and his “deportation bus.”

Mother Jones’ Pema Levy reports on the Republican gubernatorial primary in the state of Georgia–a race setting new and unsettling precedent for its open appeals to racism, and even vigilante violence against undocumented immigrants:

The Republican gubernatorial primary in Georgia has devolved in recent weeks into a chest-thumping argument over which candidate hates undocumented immigrants the most. In their rush to prove themselves, two candidates—both currently elected officials—have engaged in an escalating competition over who can personally “round up” and remove more immigrants from the state.

In a television ad released May 9, Brian Kemp—who serves as Georgia’s secretary of state and was formerly a state legislator—suggests he intends to personally detain and remove immigrants from the country. “I got a big truck,” he says, climbing into a pick-up truck, “just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take ’em home myself.” He then adds with a smirk: “Yep, I just said that.”

“His ad is beyond anti-immigrant, as he quite literally threatens to abduct individuals,” Stephanie Cho, executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, said in a statement. “Georgia needs a governor who…does not promote reckless vigilantism.”

But state Sen. Michael Williams, another GOP primary candidate, disagrees. So Williams saw Kemp’s pick-up truck—and raised him a bus.

On Wednesday, Williams launched a multi-county campaign tour in his “Deportation Bus.” Metal grating covers the windows of the gray bus, and the words “Fill this bus with illegals” run along its side. On the back it reads: “Danger! Murderers, rapists, kidnappers, child molesters, and others on board.”

This is all taking place despite the fact that GOP-dominated Georgia already has laws on the books severely penalizing so-called “sanctuary cities” that have essentially eliminated in that state the sort of complaints traditionally made about American cities that “don’t cooperate” with federal immigration officials. Georgia is a state in which the “solutions” controversially proposed to this issue have already been implemented–but as you can see, the demagoguery against immigrants has only gotten worse.

It’s just another example of the normalization of rhetoric only heard on the distant fringe of American politics before Donald Trump became President. In previous years, the absolutely horrific things coming out of these mainstream gubernatorial candidates’ mouths would be national news, with every Republican in the land forced to either validate or condemn it.

In Donald Trump’s America, this barely registers. That could be even worse than what they’re saying.

DACA Vote in House Inches Closer

Clockwise from top left: Polis, Coffman, DeGette, Perlmutter

Congress is getting closer and closer to a potential vote on DACA that could lay out a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the United States as children through no fault of their own.

CNN reported earlier today that House leaders pushing a discharge petition are only a handful of votes away from pressing ‘GO.’ More recently, a report from Talking Points Memo indicates that the votes are in-hand:

House Republican moderates say they have enough support to force a full House vote on legislation to protect undocumented immigrants brought here as children, as tensions between them and House GOP leaders continued to escalate on Thursday.

A coalition of GOP centrists led by Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Jeff Denham (R-CA) are sick and tired of waiting for leaders refusing to move on a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. And they’re just four GOP signatories away from being able to force a full House vote on a solution, assuming all House Democrats join them in support.

Denham told reporters Thursday afternoon that the Democrats would be publicly coming onboard before the end of the day — and that more Republicans would be signing on “this week.”

“I have more than enough signatures for the discharge petition,” he said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is trying to scare Republicans into compliance by telling them that a DACA vote will cost the GOP its House Majority in November. This argument doesn’t appear to be working, as Politico reports; seeing as how there are already dozens of reasons why Republican might lose the House in 2018, singling out DACA as a political bogeyman is a pretty weak arm-twisting maneuver.

Four members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation have signed onto the discharge petition: Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County).

Sorry Mike Coffman, You’re Part Of Paul Ryan’s Machine

Can Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

AP reports on the latest attempt by proponents of immigration reform in the House to force a vote on…well, something, anything, preferably a bill that includes relief for undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children. It’s an effort that once again has Rep. “New” Mike Coffman of Colorado on board, but as the AP reports, Speaker Paul Ryan says no dice–and has the majority to back it up:

Speaker Paul Ryan mocked an effort by breakaway Republicans — a group that includes U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado — to force election-year votes on rival immigration proposals as a drive that would produce “show ponies,” not legislation the president would sign into law…

“These immigration bills deserve a vote, and Republican leadership has been wrong in holding them up,” Coffman said in a statement. “The time to get this process moving is now.”

But Coffman and his GOP allies remained shy of their goal of collecting enough signatures to force a vote. Those Republicans, who have moderate views on the issue, could force GOP leaders to hold a vote on their plan if they gather at least 218 signatures, a majority of the chamber’s membership, including Democrats.

The maverick Republicans want to allow votes on a hard-right immigration bill, a liberal one, a bipartisan compromise and any immigration bill of Ryan’s choosing. Under their plan, the measure that passes with the most votes would prevail.

As you can see, this is not a petition to force one specific bill, but to force the consideration of multiple bills spanning the range of ideological approaches to immigration reform. We don’t yet know the details of the “hard-right” bill that would be included in this discharge petition, but it’s difficult to imagine that bill would be supportable by Democrats–or, we would sincerely hope, Rep. Coffman.

Despite the risk of setting up passage of legislation adverse to the goals of immigration reform proponents, this report seems to presume that all 193 House Democrats would sign on to the discharge petition. Even if that happens, though, Republican supporters of this effort are still reportedly 25 members short in their own caucus for it to be successful. That significant remaining hurdle is made far higher by Speaker Ryan’s move to firewall the rest of the GOP caucus by crapping on the whole effort.

All of which brings us back to the same point we’ve made time and time again about Rep. Coffman, as he continues to try to live down his Tom Tancredo-loving anti-immigrant past by playing lip service to immigration reform–despite the impossibility of getting such reform through a chamber controlled by his own party. Yes, obviously, if this effort were to actually succeed against the long odds it faces in Paul Ryan’s House, Coffman would be deserving of praise. The problem is that Coffman has never once succeeded in persuading fellow Republicans to address immigration reform in a manner consistent with the lip service he pays to the issue. And all the while, Coffman continues to vote for leadership like Paul Ryan who guarantee failure.

Is 2018 the year Coffman’s game is finally up? When the discharge petition fails, we’ll revisit the question.

Coffman Blames Everyone But Himself for Not Helping Dreamers

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Tancredo y Mike Coffman.

It was good to see ColoradoPolitics dedicate a post to U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) announcement Wednesday that he supports a parliamentary maneuver to force a long-stalled vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Dreamer issue. Who’s not hoping this works? And it might.

But the ColoradoPolitics piece allows Coffman to blame everyone except himself for ignoring the Dreamers, when he’s been a major part of the problem.

Especially in this boisterous election season, ColoradoPolitics should not have posted this quote from Coffman without offering someone, somewhere, the chance to critique it:

“Democrats failed to make immigration reform a priority when they had control of the U.S. House, and Republican leaders have not made any progress to date,” Coffman said in the Wednesday statement. “I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort to finally bring these important immigration reform bills to a vote.”

While it’s true that Democrats did control the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007-2009, Coffman is flat-out wrong to blame “Republican leaders” for the lack of progress on the Dreamer issue, as if he wasn’t part of the problem, even in recent years.

In fact, as anyone who’s tracked the heart-breaking immigration issue knows, the best chance that Dreamers had at gaining protection from deportation died in the Repubublican-controlled House in 2013, after the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly and bipartisanly passed a comprehensive immigration bill by a vote of 68-32. The immigration bill included the Dream Act, which includes a path to citizenship.

ColoradoPolitics even cited the 2103 immigration bill in its post that featured Coffman slamming his partisan colleagues and patting himself on the back.

“Whichever bill makes it to the Senate has at least a fighting chance. The Senate is where Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet had success with the Gang of Eight in 2013 to pass a bipartisan immigration reform bill, only to watch it wither away in the House,” reported ColoradoPolitics.

But the post left out the fact that Coffman opposed the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill, and did nothing to stop his colleagues form killing it, leaving Dreamers desperate for help and the rest of us crying.

Legislative Trick Doesn’t Force Vote on Dreamer Bill in U.S. House

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) has taken little action on his promise to force a vote in Congress on a bill to help some Dreamers avoid deportation, but he’s touting another effort as if its comparable when, in fact, its not.

Coffman told reporters in Washington DC yesterday that he’s joined about 240 representatives to promote, in Coffman’s words, a “mechanism whereby we can have a vote, not just on one [Dreamer] bill but on four bills.” (Listen here at 9 min 50 sec.)

Under the parliamentary mechanism, called “Queen of the Hill,” four different Dreamer bills would be introduced, and the one with highest votes would move on to the U.S. Senate.

While this is a creative way to try to get a vote, the trouble is, House Speaker Paul Ryan would have to approve the Queen of the Hill procedure if a vote were to take place. And it already sounds like he’s against it.

BloombergPolitics reported yesterday:

But Ryan has final say on whether to pursue the plan. He’s said publicly that he doesn’t think this vote procedure is the best way to handle immigration because it gives the majority party — and congressional leaders — less control over the outcome. Trump continues to tweet about the wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico, as well as the need for legislation to address the immigrant status of people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, known as dreamers.

The only way to leapfrog the Speaker is through another parliamentary mechanism called a discharge petition, which Coffman has apparently dropped.

Last year, the Aurora Republican grabbed headlines by launching a discharge petition to allow some Dreamers to temporarily avoid deportation, but he has since mostly abandoned the effort, securing only five signatures, one of which is his own, while 218 are required.

Coffman opposed the best chance at passing the Dream Act when it was included in bipartisan immigration reform legislation that stalled in the U.S. in 2014.  He voted against the Dream Act in 2010 but has subsequently endorsed it.

During his news conference yesterday, Coffman said he “often meets with Dreamers” and decried the fact that no votes have been taken on the Dreamer issue since Trump announced that he would end the Obama’s DACA program, which allowed some Dreamers to stay in the U.S. for a few years.

Coffman’s office has not responded to multiple requests for comment about his efforts to help Dreamers.

Colorado Democratic Assembly Results

Colorado Democrats assembled at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield from Friday, April 13, to Saturday, April 14, 2018. The crowd of almost 4,000 Democrats were enthusiastic, engaged, yet civil (in contrast to the stunning back-stabbing and skullduggery at the Republican assembly) . The CDP Assembly was superbly well-organized, with balloting completed in about a half hour, and counted in less than two hours.  Kudos to Chair Morgan Carroll and all of the CDP staff and volunteers.

All of the  congressional districts held their own assemblies; many candidates had primary challengers or Democratic challengers to Republican incumbents. In this “blue wave” year, no office held by the GOP can be considered to be off-limits. Democrats in Colorado put forward a slate of phenomenal candidates.

The official results from the Colorado Democratic Party (CDP) for statewide offices are:

CU Regent-at-Large
Lesley Smith: 3,229 votes (100.00%)

Based on these results, Lesley Smith has qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for CU Regent-at-Large.

Treasurer
Bernard Douthit: 1,074 votes (31.50%)
Charles Scheibe: 557 votes (16.34%)
Dave Young: 1,778 votes (52.16%)

Based on these results, Bernard Douthit and Dave Young have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Treasurer.

Secretary of State
Jena Griswold: 3,352 votes (98.44%)
Phillip Villard: 53 votes (1.56%)

Based on these results, Jena Griswold has qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Secretary of State.

Attorney General
Amy Padden: 360 votes (10.54%)
Joe Salazar: 1,249 votes (36.58%)
Phil Weiser: 1,805 votes (52.87%)

Based on these results, Joe Salazar and Phil Weiser have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Attorney General. Amy Padden can qualify for the ballot if the Secretary of State determines that she has collected the requisite number of valid signatures.

Governor
Cary Kennedy: 2,101 votes (61.65%)
Jared Polis: 1,120 votes (32.86%)
Erik Underwood: 187 votes (5.49%)

Based on these results, Cary Kennedy and Jared Polis have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Governor.

NOTE: These are not all of the candidates that are running for these particular offices. Some candidates have chosen to qualify for the ballot by submitting petition signatures instead of going through the caucus-assembly process.

Here are the CD results in order: ( rounded to nearest 1%). I’ll update this list with numbers as I find them.

I’ve included my notes on the assemblies I attended and on the speakers I heard.

CD1: (Denver metro)Diana Degette – 61% . Her primary opponent, Saira Rao , got 37%, and  will be on the ballot. Rep. Degette has been a reliable Democratic vote for many years in a safe district – I think Rao’s candidacy will be a needed wake-up call to be more progressive and to offer better constituent services. Rao is sharp, a great speaker, and has energized the progressive base. Degette attended her CD1 assembly on April 13 , did not attend nor speak at the state assembly April 14.

CD2: (Boulder area – Jared Polis vacated the seat to run for Governor) Joe Negeuse – 91% Joe gave a helluva speech, as he always does. His personal story touches many people. Boulder will be well represented by him, as he’ll certainly win the primary, and almost certainly the general election. His primary opponent, Mark Williams, did not make the ballot.  The GOP has put up a couple of “Nicks” against Neguse: Nick Thomas and Nicholas Morse. I don’t know who won the GOP assembly vote, but they won’t beat “the Goose”.

CD3: (most of the western slope and SW CO – currently held by Scott Tipton) Diane Mitsch Bush had the highest delegate vote with 56%; Karl Harlon also cleared the 30% threshold with 41%, and will be on the ballot.

CD4: (Mostly NE CO – current incumbent Ken Buck) The Doctors were in the house! Veterinary doctors Karen McCormick and Chase Kohne each had throngs of energetic supporters on stage for their nominations. Each gave a rousing speech:

Kohne’s best line, in my opinion: “If you want to shoot an AR15, go down to the recruiting office and join the military.”

McCormick’s nominators are emphasizing Dr McCormick’s support for Dreamers and immigrants. Karen McCormick emphasized Cannabis, immigrant rights, healthcare, union support, bipartisan cooperation to get laws passed. Full disclosure: I live in CD4. I’m voting for McCormick, will be fine with Kohne as well.

CD5 (El Paso area, currently held by Doug Lamborn) Stephany Rose Spaulding won the delegate count and will be on the ballot. I don’t know about the other CD5 candidates, whom you can read about at the EPCO Young Dems site.  It’s great to see so many young Democrats running from what has6been the Tea Party GOP’s bastion in Colorado.

CD6 Aurora / Arapahoe County area, currently held by Mike Coffman. Jason Crow won top ballot with 64% , while Levi Tilleman will also be on the ballot with 35%. I saw Crow speak to the assembly, and found his persona to be authentic and appealing. PPP surveyed 761 voters, and found that Crow polled 44-39 against Coffman in Febrary 2018.

CD7 Ed Perlmutter, the Democratic incumbent, did not attend the Assembly as far as I know. Ed, a very popular Congressman in his district,  is not  being primaried in this election.

 

Author’s note – this diary started as an open thread based on my  live blogging at the Colorado State Assembly. I’ve updated it with ballot results.

 

 

Walker Walls Off Colorado

On Wednesday, a SuperPAC called “Better Colorado Now” kicked off a six-figure television ad buy in support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton that blows the anti-immigrant dog whistle as soon as the first frame rolls:

 

“Better Colorado Now” is technically not associated with Stapleton’s campaign, though Stapleton himself actually helped to raise money for the SuperPAC right before he “officially” declared as a candidate for Governor.

Look but don’t touch, Kansas

This new TV ad intimates that Stapleton is the “one” Republican candidate for Governor who “supports strengthening our border security,” though it doesn’t bother to explain how the Governor of Colorado would have any power over how the United States deals with its Mexico border.

Come to think of it, the ad also doesn’t specify which border Stapleton would “strengthen.” Perhaps Stapleton envisions walling off Colorado from the rest of the country, which brings up a whole host of new questions.

Do we start by walling off Wyoming and cutting the supply of illegal fireworks into Colorado? If we wall off New Mexico, can we add in a tunnel so that the flow of green chile is not interrupted? Do we need a little corner-sized piece of wall between Colorado and Arizona? Should plans for a wall include a moat with sharks in the water? (nevermind on that last one — obviously we need a shark-infested moat).

Anyway, we thought it would be helpful to poll our readers to give Stapleton an idea of where he should start building his mythical wall. Cast your vote below.

Which state should Colorado wall off first?
Kansas
Wyoming
Nebraska
Oklahoma
New Mexico
Utah
View Result

Mike Coffman Useless As Trump Blows Up Immigration Debate

Rep. Mike Coffman. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Back in September of 2017, Rep. Mike Coffman made a statement to Real Clear Politics about immigration reform and President Donald Trump they we felt pretty sure would come back to haunt him:

“He’s got the credibility in terms of being tough on immigration and I think he’s the only one, probably, within the Republican Party that can solve this issue,” Coffman said. [Pols emphasis]

Let’s be clear about this–Rep. Mike Coffman, frequently held up as a “moderate” on the issue of immigration after dramatically changing his own position in recent years, said last fall that Donald Trump is “the only one” within the Republican Party who can solve the vexing issue of immigration.

Headlines from this weekend are making this statement more than a little problematic for Rep. Coffman, as the New York Times reports today:

President Trump declared on Monday that a plan to protect young immigrants from deportation is “dead” and repeated his calls for Mexico to enforce border security laws and prevent immigrants from coming to the United States illegally…

Mr. Trump’s declaration that “DACA is dead” is a reference to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

The president’s position on the program is a moving target. Mr. Trump ended the program last year, but courts have blocked his decision. He also has said that he would sign a bipartisan proposal to protect the young immigrants, but he regularly threatens Democrats that there will be no deal.

In response, Rep. Coffman is somewhat less full of praise for Trump:

The problem for Rep. Coffman as he calls out strongly for a “permanent solution for DACA recipients” is he is nearly a month overdue on his promise to force a vote on a temporary solution for DACA recipients, the so-called BRIDGE Act Coffman sponsored last year as a stopgap measure, threatened to force to a vote with a discharge petition, then sheepishly abandoned after House Speaker Paul Ryan tapped him on the proverbial shoulder. At this point, Coffman is completely sidelined in the debate over immigration in Washington despite having garnered a wealth of–as it turns out undeserved–positive press.

Today, we’re pretty sure nobody in their right mind would say that Trump is the nation’s savior on immigration. Certainly nobody who wants to have credibility on the issue.

“Illegal aliens” help drive people out of Colorado, says Republican state house leader

(People are moving out of Colorado? That’s news to…everybody! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

Appearing on conservative radio Thursday, State Rep. Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, the House Republican leader, blamed immigrants for helping to drive people out of the state of Colorado.

The topic was introduced by KLZ afternoon radio host John Rush, who asked Neville about bills to crack down on “sanctuary cities,” which is a term used to describe municipalities that choose not to work with federal officials to deport undocumented immigrants, which can result in the breaking up of families and disruption to local communities and economies.

Neville wants lawmakers to pass legislation, killed by Democrats at the state Capitol, that would have punished public officials who vote to protect undocumented immigrants. He’d do this by allowing residents to sue officials who “adopt sanctuary city policies.”

“When these illegal aliens run around and injure people, that raises litigation costs and it raises property and casualty insurance rates in Colorado, and this is one of many reasons we see citizens moving out of the state,” Neville told Rush.

Neville did not respond to a tweet asking for evidence to support his accusation that people are leaving Colorado due to economic problems caused by immigrants here.

RELATED: State Rep. Dave Williams seeks to reign in “lawless politician community” by targeting sanctuary cities

Statistics repeatedly show that undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than U.S. citizens, yet they are often vilified by conservatives.

Listen to Neville on KLZ 560-AM Thursday, March 15:

Coffman again promises to force vote on Bridge Act (temporary), not to be confused with the Dream Act (permanent)

(Let’s be clear – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) recommitted this week to force a House vote to temporarily protect Dreamers from deportation, if there is no legislative fix by March 5, when the program’s phaseout under Trump is complete.

Coffman told reporters Tuesday he’d revive his so-called discharge petition, which is a parliamentary mechanism for forcing a House vote, after putting it on hold last September at the request of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who did not want Coffman’s effort to coincide with other pro-Dreamer bills.

Coffman is not promising to force a vote on the Dream Act, which would not only allow Dreamers to work and avoid deportation but also offer them a pathway to citizenship. It’s a permanent solution.

The bill that Coffman is promising to push after March 5 is called the Bridge Act, which would protect Dreamers who are already enrolled in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It’s a legislative version of what Obama did for the Dreamers and Trump torpedoed. It’s temporary, with limited protections lasting three years.

As such, Coffman wants to extend Obama’s temporary Dreamer-protection program, which Obama put in place after Congress refused to agree on a permanent fix, like the Dream Act.

Last week, Coffman said he would not support the Dream Act because it is “unrealistic,” even though Coffman voted numerous times for Hail-Mary legislation, including Obamacare repeals, that were widely considered unrealistic at the time. Still, he remains a co-sponsor of the Dream Act.

Coffman said in Septermber he’d sign a discharge petition for the Dream Act. Why the legislation is “unrealistic” now isn’t clear.

Ironically, during Obama’s term, Coffman helped kill the bill that’s come closest to solving the Dreamer problem, and that was the comprehensive immigration reform bill, passed by a bipartisan 68-32 senate vote in 2013. The legislation, which died in the U.S. House, would have protected the Dreamers from deportation and put them on an expedited road to citizenship.

Coffman, along with then U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) both opposed allowing the bipartisan bill, with the Dreamer provisions and much more, to even come up for a vote in the GOP-controlled House. The Denver Post reported that “no Colorado House Republican” supported the bill.

Coffman told The Denver Post he’ll begin collecting signatures to force a vote on the Bridge Act March 5, when DACA expires.

Coffman backtracks on support for “unrealistic” Dream Act

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

During a raucous town hall meeting Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) backed off a pledge of support for the Dream Act, which he co-sponsored just last year.

Asked by an audience member if he supports a “clean Dream Act,” which would grant a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, Coffman hedged, saying “it’s not realistic.”

“You know, it’s not realistic, because the President would never sign it,” he answered. “If I thought it would be signed into law, I would.”

Coffman co-sponsored a bipartisan Dream Act last year, along with 200 other Congressman, and it’s not clear why the Dream Act is any less realistic today than it was last year.

Furthermore, Coffman, whose office does not return calls for comment, has voted numerous times for legislation that had no realistic chance to become law.

For example, when Obama was president, Coffman voted repeatedly to repeal Obamacare, even though the chances of Obama signing legislation to repeal Obamacare were extremely low to nonexistent.

As multiple media outlets, including Reuters below, reported last year:

In the past few years, the House has voted more than 60 times to repeal or alter Obamacare, but Republicans had no hope a repeal would become law as long as Obama was president and could veto their bills.

Also while Obama was in office, Coffman voted five times to defund Planned Parenthood. Not only was it unrealistic for Obama to sign a bill with such a provision, but the odds of an anti-Planned Parenthood measure clearing the U.S. Senate at the time were objectively low.

During the Obama presidency, numerous other bills were passed by House Republicans, including Coffman, that had no realistic chance to become law.

Watch Coffman explain why he won’t support the Dream Act at a town hall Feb. 20:

Tancredo’s Ghost Looms Large As Immigration Efforts Teeter

Tom Tancredo.

Politico reports on the troubled place immigration reform efforts in Washington find themselves today:

A bipartisan agreement unveiled Wednesday faces intense skepticism from the left flank of the Democratic Caucus and hardening resistance from many Republicans amid a White House campaign to defeat it, including a Thursday veto threat. It would give an estimated 1.8 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship while spending $25 billion on border security…

The Trump administration stepped up its resistance to the bipartisan immigration amendment overnight, with the Department of Homeland Security releasing a comment blasting it as “an egregious violation of” the president’s four-part framework that would create “mass amnesty.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of the bipartisan proposal, slammed DHS on Thursday for “acting less like a partner and more like an adversary.” [Pols emphasis]

“Instead of offering thoughts and advice — or even constructive criticism — they are acting more like a political organization intent on poisoning the well,” Graham said in a statement.

Here’s the Tweet from the Department of Homeland Security’s press secretary that set off Sen. Lindsey Graham:

If the name Tyler Q. Houlton rings a bell for local political observers, there’s a very good reason. Houlton is a longtime Colorado political operative, who once worked at the right-wing “news site” Colorado Observer as well as the conservative advocacy group Compass Colorado. Prior to that, Houlton served as the spokesperson for Rep. Tom Tancredo–during the same time period that Tancredo became persona non grata in the Bush White House for his nativist antics on immigration at the same time that Bush was pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.

With all of this in mind, Lindsey Graham’s inside-baseball dig at Houlton reveals a much bigger divide between Republicans than is generally recognized. Appointing Tancredo’s former spox to run the press shop for the Department of Homeland Security is a highly provocative act as Graham’s burn demonstrates. But it also shows again just how far from the mainstream the Trump administration is on the issue of immigration.

Far enough that Team Tancredo is a perfect fit.

What happened to Coffman’s promise to force vote on a Dreamer bill by March 5?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Republican Congressman Mike Coffman grabbed headlines back in September for promising to try to force Republican leaders in the U.S. House to vote on his bill, called the BRIDGE Act, allowing Dreamers to remain in the U.S. for two more years, while Congress works out a permanent solution.

But just three days later, Coffman announced he’d met with House Speaker Paul Ryan and decided to hold off on his “discharge petition,” which is the mechanism to force such a vote, because the Speaker wanted time to introduce an unspecified long-term Dreamer-protection bill.

The media coverage of Coffman’s backtrack was dimmer, but luckily The Hill reported that Coffman had given House leadership a deadline for taking action on a Dreamer bill.  If Ryan didn’t act, Coffman would, he told the Hill’s Cristina Marcos Sept. 7:

Coffman warned he would renew his push if lawmakers are unsuccessful in reaching a deal once the six-month phaseout period ends in March 2018.

“I said that I would pull back on that to see how [Ryan] would do. What he didn’t want is two efforts simultaneously that are going at the same time, his effort to try to get our bill to the floor, and my effort to try to push a discharge petition,” Coffman said in an interview just off the House floor.

“But if he couldn’t bring something to the floor, then I would push the discharge petition.”

So Coffman promised to act on behalf of Dreamers before the DACA program expires.

That will occur March 5, as explained Sept. 5 when Trump began an “orderly phase out” of the DACA program, which allowed the Dreamers, who were brought into the U.S. as children, to remain in the U.S. and work temporarily.

So where do things stand now? There are about three weeks to go until DACA expires, unless the courts delay expiration further. And no word from Coffman.

Ryan has said he’ll only act on a bill approved by….Trump.

(more…)

Bennet Keeps Faith With DREAMer Activists as Dems Stumble

Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

The Denver Post’s Danika Worthington reports on the end of an occupation of Sen. Michael Bennet’s office by supporters of “DREAMer” undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children–which came despite passage last week of a budget resolution that once again failed to provide a solution for these people despite high drama and near-universal lip service paid to resolving their status:

At 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, six immigration activists entered the office for Bennet, who has been active on immigration issues in recent years. They demanded that he vote against this week’s proposed budget agreement, which bolstered military and domestic programs but left out immigration reform…

The activists left at 11 a.m. on Friday, said Emma Bliesener, one of the protesters. The group had referred to themselves as “the Denver6.”

“We’re on the same team here,” she said. “We just want to make sure everyone is doing everything in their power to support the immigrant community.”

There are several important reasons why the occupation last week of Sen. Bennet’s Denver office was resolved amicably–in marked contrast to a similar direct action last summer in Sen. Cory Gardner’s downtown Denver office by a group of protesters with disabilities from the storied ADAPT civil rights group, which ended in a public relations disaster for Gardner as Denver Police dragged ADAPT activists out of his office and arrested them in full view of national news cameras.

By all accounts Bennet’s staff was level-headed and engaging throughout the occupation of his office, and arrest never appears to have been seriously considered. Second, Bennet personally spoke with the activists in his office by phone from Washington to listen to their concerns, a conversation that reportedly went well. Third, and most importantly, Bennet voted against the DACA fix-less budget “deal” that has outraged immigrant-rights activists. Although the deal passed without Bennet’s support, there was no practical reason left to hold Bennet responsible for the actions of his Senate peers.

Although Bennet’s good faith in dealing with these protesters averted the nasty outcome Gardner had, it would be a mistake to think that Democrats are not in political danger from failing–repeatedly now–to maintain a unified front against President Donald Trump and Republicans in the fight to protect DACA beneficiaries. Activists on the issue broadly perceive Sen. Chuck Schumer’s cave-in last month, followed by last week’s budget deal, to be an abandonment of Democratic promises after being essentially bribed by Mitch McConnell to choose a laundry list of domestic spending goodies over a DACA fix. Democrats were also far too concerned with the inside-baseball procedural moves that tossed nominal “responsibility for a shutdown” back and forth between the parties–which nobody outside the political water cooler class gives two shits about.

So yes, good on Sen. Bennet for deftly managing last week’s tricky politics, and good for the activists pushing back on everybody regardless of their party affiliation to demand deeds not words. Politically and morally, more of both will be needed before the end.

Leader Pelosi Throws Down For DREAMers

UPDATE: Multiple outlets reporting this is now the longest floor speech in the history of the U.S. House:

—–

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

A widely-reported deal on a short term funding resolution to stave off a government shutdown as early as tomorrow night is in jeopardy this hour as House Democrats led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi revolt over the lack of a solution for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children–an issue on which Democrats lost out three weeks ago as they relented on forcing a shutdown, but appear to be once again rallying around today:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi started speaking on the House floor around 10 a.m. today. She’s still going, almost six hours later.

So what’s this all about? Pelosi started her speech announcing that she opposes the bipartisan Senate spending deal because it doesn’t include a permanent solution for undocumented immigrants affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program…

House Democrats will likely spend the next 24 hours pushing to get a commitment from House Speaker Paul Ryan on floor consideration of DACA bills.

The deal will require Democratic support to pass the House, so the House Democratic leader’s comments make the plan’s future unclear.

It’s unknown as of now how this will end up, but Pelosi is doing everything the leader of the minority can do in this situation. Because some amount of Democratic support will be needed to pass the continuing resolution Democrats have the leverage to make a stand at this moment. Politically, a show of force on behalf of DACA kids will serve Democrats far better than the ignominious end of the last shutdown fight.

This is a nice way of saying that fellow Democrats would be well served to shake off their timidity and join her on the floor.

Rep. Mike Coffman too, but anybody holding their breath for that is hopelessly naïve.