Colorado Sheriffs Debunk “Sanctuary” Fakery

An open letter this week from the County Sheriffs of Colorado attempts to clarify the role and legal responsibility of law enforcement with regard to detaining undocumented immigrants for eventual transfer to federal immigration authorities. Our generally conservative elected county sheriffs in Colorado are clearly taking heat from constituents energized by the President Donald Trump, and want out of the low-information line of fire:

Recently, there has been increased interest in the topic of how local governments work with federal immigration authorities. As Colorado Sheriffs, we’ve received inquiries on how our jails cooperate with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE.) Some have claimed that Colorado Sheriffs offer sanctuary to illegal immigrants in their custody. Let us clear the air.

Sheriffs hold the rule of law as sacred. We are elected with the authority to enforce the laws of Colorado and to protect the rights guaranteed in the federal and state Constitutions.

Our jails serve two distinct purposes. One is a judicial function, the other is a detention function. Under our judicial function, we hold persons accused of a crime awaiting trial, if a court has not authorized their release. This includes persons taken into custody on warrants issued by a judge or persons arrested by a peace officer under a probable cause arrest. If the court authorizes the arrestee’s release, we must release them…

Outside of legally recognized exigent circumstances, we cannot hold persons in jail at the request of a local police officer or a federal agent. To do so, would violate the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution. While Colorado Sheriffs do not have the authority to enforce federal laws, we do work cooperatively with a large variety of federal law enforcement agencies. At times, we participate in federal task forces and other times, we share information on potential federal crimes with those federal law enforcement agencies. This includes sharing information on all arrestees in our jails with the FBI and ICE. This gives them the opportunity to determine which arrestees might also be wanted by federal authorities or who might be in violation of our federal immigration laws.

If federal authorities present us with a warrant or other detainer, signed by a judge or a magistrate, we hold those persons for federal authorities to pick up. However, the courts have ruled that we have no authority to hold arrestees on administrative holds that have not been reviewed and approved by federal judges or magistrates.

Sheriffs have informed ICE that in order to comply with the 4th Amendment, we must get judicially approved holds or warrants. However, at this time, ICE chooses not to do this.

Recently, some have chosen to accuse Sheriffs of providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants, simply because we are complying with the Constitution, as determined by federal courts. This is an absolutely unsubstantiated and ridiculous claim. [Pols emphasis]

We wouldn’t put any bets on the Peter Boyles talk-radio crowd laying off the sheriffs and local governments who they regularly accuse of everything up to and including treason for not keeping undocumented immigrants locked up, but this letter is useful to prove to anyone not already on the fringe of the issue that our local law enforcers are enforcing immigration law to the full extent that it is practicable to do so.

So, you know, enough with the conspiracy theories and stupid bills.

Senate Republicans Send Trump Resolution To The “Kill Committee”

UPDATE #2: Peter Marcus at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

With little notice, Senate Republicans on Tuesday held a hearing on a Democratic effort to encourage President Trump to rescind temporary refugee and select immigration bans…

Sen. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, a sponsor of the resolution, said he was informed about the hearing Monday morning.

Demonstrations in opposition to Trump’s bans have taken place throughout Colorado, especially in Denver, where thousands of people protested the presidential directives.

“There are thousands of Coloradans who feel this way,” said Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver. “I wondered if you knew why we don’t have anymore people here to testify.”

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UPDATE: HJR17-1013 dies in Senate State Affairs as Democratic lawmakers fume:

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After a resolution passed the Colorado House last week condemning President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from numerous Muslim-majority nations, word came late last night the Colorado Senate Republicans were routing the resolution to the State Affairs Committee, where it is likely to die:

A fiery debate is underway right now in this committee, click here to listen in–and if you’re so inclined and positioned, head for Senate Conference Room 357. We’ll update with developments as we get word.

Idiotic Sanctuary City Bill Not Ready For Prime Time

Rep. Dave Williams (R).

The Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports on a bill introduced by freshman Rep. Dave Williams, the successor in HD-15 to former Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, that claims to enact civil and criminal penalties for public officials in Colorado who creates or operates a “sanctuary jurisdiction.”

State Rep. Dave Williams said Monday he plans to introduce “The Colorado Politician Accountability Act” this week, legislation aimed at holding officials criminally liable for the “carnage” committed by some immigrants.

“As the first Latino elected to Colorado House District 15,” said Williams, who was first elected to the heavily Republican district in November, in a statement, “I think it’s important that we do all we can to uphold the rule of law and ensure all communities, regardless of race or ethnicity, are protected from dangerous policies that are forced on us by radical, out-of-touch politicians who continually sell out to an unlawful agenda that increases the number of criminals, and needless deaths among our fellow citizens.”

…The proposed legislation drew sharp criticism from state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, who is planning to introduce legislation of his own this week called “The Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act,” named after the Colorado governor who defended Japanese-Americans subject to internment during World War II.

“His bill is grounded in ridiculousness, surround by ignorance, covered in prejudice and overall is tone-deaf to what is happening in our country,” Salazar told The Statesman. “If Rep. Williams wants to serve as a human dogwhistle for Trump, I imagine his time as a legislator will be considered wasted.” [Pols emphasis]

So there are two major effects of this legislation if it were to become law: allowing* (see below) civil suits against government officials who create “sanctuary jurisdictions,” and creating the new class 4 felony charge of “rendering assistance to an illegal alien through a sanctuary jurisdiction.” Now obviously, anyone can write a bill establishing new crimes–but in the case of civil suits against government officials, that’s another matter entirely. Public officials are immune from most civil lawsuits under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act. The bill says officials can’t claim immunity in “sanctuary jurisdiction” cases, but that would be vigorously challenged in court.

None of which really matters anyway, since this bill doesn’t have a hope in hell of passage. Some of our longtime readers will recall Rep. Williams’ checkered history in El Paso County politics, including an ill-fated run for El Paso County GOP chair that ended in defeat after local Republicans judged Williams to be too homophobic and generally unpleasant even for them. As you can read above, Williams trades heavily on his own Latino heritage to justify his sponsorship of one of the uglier pieces of anti-immigration legislation we’ll see in Colorado this year.

Some people, we suppose, just have a lot to “prove.”

Ken Buck Only Member of Colo. Delegation to Back Travel Ban

Rep. Ken Buck presses whatever button President Trump prefers.

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has generally refused to answer reporter questions about his position on Donald Trump’s travel ban for immigrants, leaving local news outlets such as Denver7 and the Denver Post to guess about his position on one of the more pressing issues in the country. But Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman will not be denied; as Luning reports, Rep. Buck on Monday offered his unqualified support for the Muslim travel ban:

“Our country has always offered hope for the oppressed and homeless, but hope also requires safety and security,” Buck said. We should not let people into this country unless we can thoroughly vet them. America welcomes Muslims from 190 countries and temporarily bans all individuals from 7 countries. The President’s executive order is a temporary effort that addresses a serious issue with terrorist hot spots.”

Congressman Buck is the only member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation to offer his full support for Trump’s travel ban. Even Colorado Springs Rep. Doug Lamborn made it clear that he opposes Trump’s Executive Order creating the travel ban.

House Debate Underway on Resolution Condemning Trump

UPDATE: Peter Marcus at the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Colorado’s House Republican leader on Tuesday defended President Trump’s temporary refugee and select immigration bans, saying the orders are a prudent move to understand threats facing the nation…

“I don’t think there is any disagreement that we are a nation of immigrants. This is simply a temporary halt in some of the most dangerous areas. That’s all the executive order is,” Neville said.

He went on to draw upon his experiences as a soldier in Iraq, suggesting that his life “depended on my Muslim friends,” but was also “threatened by Muslim enemies.”

…Neville also stated that most Americans support taking the time to develop policies that aim at protecting American lives, despite nationwide protests and bipartisan opposition to Trump’s directives.

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A press release from the Colorado House Democratic Majority on a new resolution calling out Donald Trump, and daring Republicans in the Colorado legislature to defend him:

House Democrats are introducing a resolution today opposing President Donald Trump’s recent executive order pertaining to various visa holders that is currently roiling the country. House Democrats also indicated that they would bring forward more measures in the coming days responding to Trump’s offensive against minorities, immigrants, refugees, women and others.

“In so many ways, Donald Trump is implementing a policy of separating the United States from the rest of the world,” said Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver. “The risks of a new American isolationism are immense. This is unnecessarily divisive and warrants our immediate attention.”

The resolution, sponsored by Reps. Hansen and Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, recalls America’s history as a nation of immigrants, especially its long record of accepting refugees fleeing war, famine and oppression. It calls on President Trump to rescind or Congress to overturn​ his Jan. 27 executive order banning citizens from seven mostly Muslim nations, even those individuals who already have permanent residency or other U.S. visas.

​“This administration is way out of step with Colorado,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet. “Whether it’s directing the construction of an unnecessary, costly and stigmatizing wall on the Mexican border, whether it’s him threatening DACA recipients and DREAMers, whether it’s his attacks on women or his unconstitutional executive order targeting Muslims, we cannot and will not stand for these actions.”

“It seems clear that we have not seen the last Trump action that violates America’s values and laws,” said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Adams County. “I am deeply concerned that among his next steps will be to order the deportation of children who have grown up in this country and are protected under the DACA program. I will support an inclusive Colorado and an inclusive America, and I’ll oppose every reckless attempt coming out of Washington to divide us.”

“These misguided policies do nothing to keep us safe,” said Rep. Edie Hooton, D-Boulder. “We cannot stand by while policies that violate our constitution and values are pushed through by overreaching executive action.”

The resolution is being scheduled for floor debate on Tuesday. Other Democratic actions to protect against broad federal overreach are expected in the coming days.

Debate on this resolution is underway on the floor of the Colorado House right now (click here to watch live). House Minority Leader Patrick Neville is leading the defense of Trump:

We’ll update with coverage as it comes in.

Gov. Hickenlooper Condemns Trump Muslim Ban

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Here’s a statement today from Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, denouncing President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from several Muslim-majority nations in the strongest possible terms:

“The vast majority of refugees admitted to the United States are families, mainly comprised of women and children, and all refugees are admitted only after they make it through the world’s toughest vetting program. Many of the refugees helped US forces, often in violent and chaotic circumstances, risking their lives in the process.

We can and should continue to work with the federal government and Homeland Security to ensure that the verification system used to screen refugees is as stringent as possible. But we can do that while we honor our values as Americans. Religious tests and blanket bans diminish those values and injure our international reputation. The executive order serves as a powerful recruiting tool for our enemies and needlessly antagonizes our allies around the world. We believe that Americans will be less safe, at home and abroad, if the executive order is fully implemented. [Pols emphasis] We urge the President to rescind the executive order.”

Here’s some additional information we were forwarded that gives some scope of both the number affected in or in transit to Colorado, as well as the number of refugees who have already been resettled here in recent months:

Since October 1, 2016, Colorado has resettled 736 refugees, of whom 88 were Syrian. With the executive order in effect, estimated arrivals to Colorado for the fiscal year will total 1,042, or half the number expected before the order was signed.

Of those who had been set to come to Colorado between now and the end of the fiscal year, 83 would have been Syrians. Until the executive order, Colorado had expected 2,195 refugees in FY17. With the order, that decreases to an estimated 1,042. Colorado had expected 55 refugees in the next few days, including families from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

As you can see, Colorado welcomes refugees. Colorado has historically welcomed them, welcomes them today, and would continue to do so if Trump were to rescind his executive order. All we can hope is that Hickenlooper’s statement is heard over the din–and America’s enemies and allies alike understand that what’s happening is not Colorado’s choice.

Protests Erupt at DIA, Nationwide Over Trump Muslim Ban

UPDATE: Lots of statements as the Trump administration appears to be badly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Sen. Michael Bennet set the mood soon after the announcement, with a statement we think speaks for the Democratic delegation:

“The President’s executive order on refugees will harm, not enhance, our national security and marks a significant departure from our nation’s proud history of welcoming people in need of protection,” Bennet said. “To halt completely or to shape our refugee program by religious or ethnic preferences betrays the values that have made our country strong.

“Refugees are fleeing the same violence and extremism that threatens our nation’s security and are more thoroughly vetted than any other group of people entering the United States. In addition, targeting certain religions and groups will undermine our counterterrorism efforts by stoking anti-West sentiment among ISIS followers and other extremists.

“Instead, we should focus on addressing the security gaps in the Visa Waiver Program. We should implement a stronger strategy for countering ISIS propaganda in order to degrade its ability to radicalize and recruit. Finally, we should pass the 2013 immigration reform bill, which included measures to secure our borders and enhance interior enforcement. Addressing these vulnerabilities and investing in smart security solutions will help make us safer and remain true to our values.”

And finally late today Sen. Cory Gardner is following Bennet’s lead in criticizing the order, albeit still very gently, which for us is nonetheless a significant sign that Donald Trump’s support is evaporating:

We expect the next few days to be highly eventful. Stay tuned.

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Your deliberately oversimplified glance at what happened in Colorado this week.

Denver7:

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Denver International Airport Saturday in the wake of President Donald Trump’s orders to temporarily ban refugees from entering the U.S.

“I am here to stand in solidarity with the immigrants and green card holder, students, professional and people who came to the United States for legitimate reasons,” said Samantha Reynolds. “Suddenly, they’re being denied access to the place they call home, with no due process, as far as I’m concerned.”

“There are four (kinds of) people in the world,” said Shauna Johnson. “There are bullies. There are the bullied. There are the silent and there are the defenders.”

“These people,” she said pointing toward the crowd, “are the defenders.”

State Reps. Joseph Salazar and Leslie Herod were on hand for the protest at DIA last night, with Salazar talking to authorities at several points to ensure things didn’t get out of hand:

After about three hours the protest at DIA ended, declaring a measure of victory after a federal judge partially halted President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel for the next 90 days from seven Muslim-majority nations. Travelers with valid visas who were detained in the U.S. will not be removed from the country, and travelers on route to the U.S. will be allowed to complete their journeys.

The ruling doesn’t address the larger question of affected legal U.S. residents who were caught traveling abroad at the time of the order but were not “in transit,” or the overall constitutionality of Trump’s order–though it does say that in the judge’s opinion the government is not likely to prevail. Going forward, there is a serious risk to people from Iraq and Syria in particular who have earned a trip to the U.S. for collaborating with American forces. At the very least, this situation creates a major disincentive to cooperate with America going forward for residents of these nations.

Even Republican state Sen. Larry Crowder gets it, making a stronger statement against Trump’s order than many fellow Republicans up the food chain:

Compare that to Sen. Cory Gardner’s non-response this weekend via CBS4:

Gardner also says Congress will be methodical on immigration reform. He also says that Executive Action is not the way to do it.

“People shouldn’t be afraid, I don’t think, in this country. We should be proud. We should take pride in the differences of opinion in this country. But never use that or let fear interfere with making this country stronger or fighting for your viewpoints,” said Gardner.

Rep. Mike Coffman manages to state his principles a little more clearly:

“While I’ve supported heightened vetting procedures for those wanting to travel to our country, I have never, nor will I ever support a blanket travel ban for people solely based on ethnic or religious grounds.”

The only trouble is, as Denverite’s Erica Meltzer astutely observes, is nobody knows if Coffman is referring to Trump’s actual order, because:

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan supported this order, despite opposing a Muslim ban before the election, because it’s just a ban on people from certain countries. Who happen to be Muslim.

“This is not a religious test and it is not a ban on people of any religion,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong told the Washington Post.

That kind of parsing leaves Coffman’s statement open to interpretation. [Pols emphasis]

Which, we suspect based on experience, is just the way Coffman likes it.

The ban on travel to the United States from numerous Muslim-majority nations is a fulfillment of a campaign promise from Trump, much like the headlong drive to repeal Obamacare, the halt to the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, and other orders issued by Trump in his first week in office. Each of these kept promises by Trump are a fresh disaster for Democrats and the majority of American voters who opposed him, growing the sense of outrage that has fueled protests from last week’s record-setting Women’s Marches to last night’s spontaneous protest at DIA.

We can’t tell you where this all ends, but it shows no signs of stopping.

Wacky Westminster Councilman’s Anti-Immigrant Rant Gets Exposed


We talked earlier this month about the strange case of Westminster City Councillor Bruce Baker, who launched into a bizarre pre-recorded diatribe during a recent city council meeting about illegal immigration, comparing the crime of rape to being in the country without documentation:

Instead of talking about the real harm to victims of people unlawfully in the United States, my colleagues chose to talk about being a ‘welcoming community.’ How odd. I do not think for a second that my colleagues would be welcoming to perpetrators of sexual assault.

As Denver7’s Jaclyn Allen reports, Baker’s defense of these remarks isn’t going super well.

“We’re here to make people’s lives better and not tear families apart,” said Shannon Bird, a City Council member who said Baker’s comment don’t represent Westminster. “To equate the violent crime of rape to one’s documented or undocumented immigration status was frankly horrifying to me. It’s not right, and it is not supported by the rest of our council.”

Critics are concerned the comments could encourage vigilante justice, and they came out in force at Tuesday night’s meeting, giving nearly three hours of public comment.

“I was blown away honestly,” said Tangi Lancaster, who spoke in the meeting about being a rape survivor. “When he used his words and his comparison of rapists to people who are here unlawfully in the United States, I was revolted.”

But Baker is not apologizing, saying he only regrets that people missed his point, which was that he wants all laws enforced and anyone in the country illegally kicked out.

As a cultural ambassador for Republicans, it’s true that Baker has probably got nothing on what Donald Trump and friends are doing to the GOP brand in Washington. With that said, Baker’s plainly ridiculous comparison of undocumented presence in the United States, which is technically not even a petty offense but a civil court proceeding, to the crime of rape doesn’t make either himself or his fellow Republicans look good.

Now that Baker’s rant has made the news, it would be a smart idea for Colorado Republicans to denounce him–but we kind of doubt that’s going to happen, however toxic this may all be for the party’s long-term relations with Latino voters.

Because like we say, Bruce Baker is just parroting what he sees up the food chain.

Colorado Latin@ Lawmakers Tell Trump To Leave DACA Kids Alone

Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran.

A release from Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran a short while ago asks President-elect Donald Trump for some compassion for undocumented students in the United States through no fault of their own:

Speaker Crisanta Duran, Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman and the seven other members of the Latino Democratic Caucus issued a letter this morning to President-elect Donald Trump asking that he declare Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients will be allowed to remain in the U.S. under his administration.

“We are simply asking that the president-elect put an end to the fear and uncertainty of the 742,000 men, women and children, and the millions of our fellow Americans that know them as our friends, neighbors, family members and coworkers,” stated Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, the first Latina Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives. “We are talking about keeping families—children and mothers and fathers—together. This is their home and they are a part of us.”

“Hard-working Coloradans, from the Front Range to the San Luis Valley, have made so many positive contributions to the communities they grew up in. Yet, now they live in fear of being torn apart from their families. The President-elect must send a message that the American dream is open to them, and commit to keeping DACA in place,” said Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver.

In Colorado, undocumented students who have graduated from our state’s high schools are able to attend state colleges and universities at essentially in-state rates–a privilege undocumented students don’t enjoy everywhere. The program is a rough equivalent to the federal DREAM Act, which stalled in the Republican-controlled Congress and is now a non-starter under Trump. Colorado’s ASSET law eliminates a formidable barrier to these kids maximizing their contribution to the American economy.

Which is of course all they want to do. It’s worth noting that children who registered under the DACA program did so in good faith, under the promise that they would be spared from deportation and given work authorizations. Unfortunately for DACA registrees, they are now the best-documented undocumented residents of the United States. Which means if Trump decides to throw them out now, they’ll be much easier to find than most undocumented immigrants. In that event, those trying hardest to play by the rules would pay the highest price.

About the only thing we can say confidently is that whatever happens won’t be long now. We hope it’s an outcome that all Americans can be proud of.

Bill would protect Colorado residents and immigrants, not provide “sanctuary”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Joe Salazar.

A Channel 7 story Monday alleged that a bill, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Salazar (D-Thornton) would “make Colorado a sanctuary state.”

In its piece, titled “Proposed bill aims to make Colorado a sanctuary state,” Channel 7 reported:

If state Rep. Joseph Salazar, D-Adams Co., gets his way, Colorado could be the nation’s first sanctuary state…

Salazar says the passage of this is bill would be timely due to the president’s elect rhetoric on immigration.

“I’m going to take him for his words and actions in terms of his cabinet appointments, and we are going to prepare state of Colorado to defend ourselves against it,” said Joseph Salazar.

Salazar’s bill (here) never uses the word “sanctuary,” for good reason.

No local jurisdiction can provide “sanctuary” to undocumented immigrants.  No state or city can prevent the federal government from arresting undocumented immigrants–or enforcing federal immigration law.

But states don’t have to help Trump arrest undocumented immigrants. They don’t have to assist the feds in racial or religious profiling. States don’t have to help Trump develop a registry of immigrants or residents based on race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation.

And that’s what Salazar’s bill would do, basically.

So it’s a mistake for journalists, who pride themselves on precise language, to refer to Salazar’s bill as making Colorado a “sanctuary state.”

It won’t. And, if you’ve watched conservatives and bigots, like Trump, use the term “sanctuary city,” you know that it inflames people. Which would be okay if it accurately described what cities are doing when they pass laws protecting citizens and undocumented immigrants from over-reach by the federal government.

That’s what Salazar’s bill would do–and that’s how journalists should describe it.

Westminster City Councilman: Rapists, Immigrants, Whatever

Westminster City Councillor Bruce Baker, who briefly ran for Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s CD-7 last year before losing the primary to George Athanasopoulos, has a reputation as a far-out anti-immigrant firebrand–so much so that he has drawn the ire of moderate Republicans for “embarrassing the party.”

But since the election of Donald Trump, Baker has been on an empowered tear against immigrants, and (especially) the response of his fellow councillors to Trump’s immigration proposals–which culminated yesterday evening in a bizarre recorded statement played back by Baker into his own microphone during a council meeting. Apparently, it was easier for Baker to record his little diatribe in advance than, you know, say it live. Excerpts:

The plain fact is that American culture has poorly dealt with sexual assault…addressing these crimes after the fact is too little too late. It was a mere forty years ago that marital rape was finally recognized as a crime in the United States. Old attitudes die slowly…we all must obey the law. Support the law. Be smart about situations, intervene if possible, and encourage everyone in society to do the same…

It is only by obeying the law that we will keep full value of the wonderful place we are. Sexual assault laws are not weapons that hurt Americans, sexual assault laws are a shield that protects Americans…and that’s true with robbery, and fraud, and embezzlement, and being unlawfully present in the United States. [Pols emphasis]

My colleagues are afraid to approach the crime of being unlawfully present in the United States. Part of that fear stems from the fact that for the crime of being unlawfully present in the United States, there is no sympathetic victim to which we can point. If there was a distinct individual victim, that victim and their injuries would provide a point of focus we all could grasp. But the victims of people that are unlawfully present in the United States, while many in number, have no obvious injuries which the media can showcase. Their stories of loss and displacement are difficult to quantify. Their hurting is minimized and ignored…

Instead of talking about the real harm to victims of people unlawfully in the United States, my colleagues chose to talk about being a ‘welcoming community.’ How odd. I do not think for a second that my colleagues would be welcoming to perpetrators of sexual assault. [Pols emphasis]

So, there’s a lot wrong with this. First of all, the simple act of being present in the United States without documentation is not a crime. It’s a civil offense under federal law. The act of entering the U.S. illegally is a misdemeanor offense, but not simply being here. That means the whole premise of Baker’s diatribe, that illegal immigration is a “crime” on par with sexual assault, is nonsense.

From there, we can explain that in addition to being nonsense, likening undocumented immigrants to perpetrators of sexual assault is extremely offensive. It’s interesting how Baker concedes there is no “distinct individual victim” of illegal immigration, in effect admitting that scaring Americans about this supposed imminent threat has no factual basis.

Yes, comparing undocumented immigrants to rapists worked for the President-elect of the United States. But–and we mean it in every possible way except this lowest common denominator–Bruce Baker is no Donald Trump.

Coffman: Trump Vow To Make Mexico Pay For Wall a “Gimmick”

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Manu Raju at CNN reports on growing skepticism among Republicans about President-elect Donald Trump’s oft-repeated longshot vow to “build a wall on the southern border and make Mexico pay for it”–including Colorado’s leading on-again off-again Trump backer, Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora:

President-elect Donald Trump is still insisting that Mexico will ultimately pay billions for the construction of a massive wall along the southern border.

Many Republicans on Capitol Hill are not so sure.

In interviews with CNN, a number of Republicans suggested that Trump’s claim amounted to wishful thinking, saying they believed the billionaire businessman would ultimately backtrack on one of his central campaign promises.

“I doubt that they’re going to pay for it,” said Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Senate Republican, referring to Mexico. “There’s a lot he could do if he wanted to (force Mexico’s hand). In all honesty, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Rep. Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican, added: “I never thought that would happen. I thought it was a gimmick.” [Pols emphasis]

The story quotes other Republicans variously agreeing with Trump that forcing Mexico to pay for–or at least reimburse–the United States for the costs of building a wall across the entire 1,989 miles of border between the two nations is plausible. Or if it’s not, at least agreeing that America needs “border security.”

Less clear from this story, either in Coffman’s case or that of other Republicans quoted, is the answer to what may be the only question that matters: will Republicans in Congress vote to pay for Trump’s wall first and “collect” from Mexico later? Even Trump seems to admit now that this is the only practical way to proceed.

For Mike Coffman, who has kept his career alive by changing his stripes on immigration to fit his changing constituency, the question is twofold: voting to build a wall America would have to pay for–and on a more basic level, voting to build Trump’s wall at all.

You’ll notice Coffman’s response to the question disclosed neither.

Forget the rabbit hole, Coffman is opposed to a path to citizenship for immigrants

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

9News anchor Kyle Clark did an excellent job interviewing U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman Tuesday, and his Democratic challenger Morgan Carroll Monday, pressing them on a range of issues.

On immigration, Clark asked Coffman what he’d propose for adult undocumented immigrants:

Coffman: “As long as they haven’t violated criminal laws to give them a legalized status that would allow them to work here without fear of deportation.

Clark: “Not citizenship but legal status?”

Coffman: “Legal status.”

Clark: “Any path to citizenship for those people?”

Coffman: “No. No.”

But without skipping a beat, Coffman kind of contradicted himself, with the camera rolling, saying he could possibly support a path to citizenship.

Coffman: “I don’t want to box myself in. If we get into negotiations, and there’s everything that I like, and it would be a very long path, and very selective. You know, I don’t want to totally back myself—but ideally I would say no.”

If you’re a journalist, what do you do with Coffman’s qualifier? Do you say he’s opposed to a citizenship path? Against it, unless he’s for it?

In a news segment yesterday based on the interview, Clark contrasted Coffman’s stance against a path to citizenship with Carroll’s position in favor of it. He didn’t mention Coffman’s qualifying comments.

In an email, I asked Clark why he apparently concluded that Coffman is against a path to citizenship.

Clark: “I took Representative Coffman’s answer to mean that he is not in favor of a path to citizenship but stopped short of saying he’d never support it,” wrote Clark.

Clark could have gone down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out, specifically, what Coffman means by theoretically favoring a citizenship path if negotiations produce “everything that I like.”

But it’s a rabbit hole other reporters have tried to go down without coming up with specifics on what Coffman wants for citizenship. And besides, Coffman’s statement, especially with “ideally no” tacked on, is clear enough as it is.

So Clark was right to conclude Coffman opposes a path to citizenship.

(more…)

Coffman Repeats 2014 Spanish Closing Statement Practically Verbatim

Tom Tancredo y Mike Coffman.

Tom Tancredo y Mike Coffman.

This weekend, the debate between Republican Rep. Mike Coffman and his Democratic opponent Morgan Carroll in Spanish aired after being taped on October 4th. Carroll’s campaign fired off a press release as the debate aired on Saturday that we suspect they could barely wait to send, because it’s a bit of a bombshell:

Coffman Verbatim Recycles Spanish Debate Remarks From 2014 – Two Years Later

Despite claiming to have learned Spanish, Mike Coffman declined to come up with new closing remarks at the Univisión debate this election cycle — failing to respect Spanish-speaking voters to give them a statement that reflects the realities of 2016. Listen and compare Coffman’s 2014 closing to his 2016 closing:

2014 Remarks:

Coffman: Gracias. Para mí, es muy importante poder compartir mis planes e ideas para crear más empleos, y más oportunidades para todos en Colorado. Mis prioridades son ustedes. Las familias. Los trabajadores. La seguridad de nuestro país. Y los jóvenes que serán los líderes de mañana. Yo crecí en una familia de clase trabajadora en la cuidad de Aurora, ganando el salario mínimo. Obtuve mi diploma de secundaria mientras estaba en el servicio de militar. Después, empecé un pequeño negocio en Aurora. Entiendo lo que es pagar impuestos como trabajador y también mantener abiertas las puertas de un negocio. Sé lo que es trabajar duro, y por muchas horas, para lograr el sueño americano al igual que ustedes. Yo quiero que Washington trabaje para el pueblo, no al revés. Debemos prosperar y asegurar que las políticas de Washington den oportunidad y ayuden a las familias obtener a su sueño Americano. Sería un honor tener su voto. Que dios los bendiga a ustedes y a los Estados Unidos. Gracias y buenas noches…

2016 Remarks:

Primero, muchas gracias a Univision por organizar este debate. Tambien le doy las gracias a todos los que estan[?] en casa y por tenerle paciencia a mi espanol. Mis prioridades son ustedes. Las familias. Los trabajadores. La seguridad de nuestro país. Y los jóvenes que serán los líderes de mañana. Yo crecí en una familia de clase trabajadora en Aurora, ganando el salario mínimo. Obtuve mi diploma de secundaria mientras serví en el ejercito. Después, empecé un pequeño negocio en Aurora. Entiendo lo que es pagar impuestos como trabajador y también mantener abiertas las puertas de un negocio. Sé lo que es trabajar duro, y por muchas horas, para lograr el sueño americano al igual que ustedes. Yo quiero que Washington trabaje para el pueblo, no al revés. Debemos prosperar y asegurar que las políticas de Washington den oportunidad y ayuden a las familias obtener a su sueño Americano. Sería un honor contar con su apoyo y su voto. Que dios los bendiga a ustedes y a los Estados Unidos. Gracias y buenas noches.

Reading the statements is one thing, but you’ve really got to see this spliced together to understand how bad it is–whether or not you speak Spanish. Here’s an excerpted mashup we were forwarded, but the original video is no less damning:

So yeah, that’s pretty painful to watch! Frankly, since it’s evident that in both cases Coffman was merely reading a prepared statement, requiring no actual knowledge of the language, we’re baffled at how his campaign let this happen. There’s no reason why they couldn’t have given him a different statement to close this debate than the one he gave in 2014. Did they really think no one would compare the two?

“Mike Coffman can lie to the voters in any language he wants — but the fact that he repeated the same lies at the same debate is a direct insult to Spanish-speaking voters,” said Carroll for Colorado spokesman Drew Godinich. “Despite trying to distance himself from the Trump campaign, Mike Coffman took a page directly from the Melania Trump handbook. If Mike Coffman’s goal was to insult Colorado Latinos, then he should consider this debate a resounding success.” [Pols emphasis]

For a campaign that has invested so much in putting its best foot forward to Latino voters in this diverse and competitive district–and especially in light of Coffman’s long anti-immigrant record that invites basic questions about his honesty–it’s an unbelievable gift to his opponent. It is sloppy and lazy and contemptuous of a vital bloc of voters, at a moment when Coffman simply can’t afford that.

If Carroll’s campaign or Democrats up the food chain have any sense, this will be an ad by the weekend.

In every language they can.

Everybody’s Trying So Hard To Save Mike Coffman

coffmanpushupThe recent story of national conservative “astroturf” organizing behemoth Americans For Prosperity’s single-minded fixation with Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District, where the organization’s president Tim Phillips was personally knocking on doors last week with literature attacking incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman’s Democratic opponent Morgan Carroll, has made political outsiders more aware of something we’ve known for months: this is one of the most important congressional races in the entire nation, and the threat Coffman faces is a bellwether for the GOP’s ability to function in a post-Donald Trump political landscape.

This year in Colorado, Americans for Prosperity is targeting Democrat Morgan Carroll, who is challenging Republican incumbent Mike Coffman in the 6th Congressional District. The organization is not making a play in the presidential race to help Donald Trump, nor Colorado’s U.S. Senate race to boost Republican Darryl Glenn, who AFP strategists don’t consider competitive.

The Carroll-Coffman contest is the only U.S. House race in the nation this year to draw attention from the organization backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch…

George Will, y'all.

George Will, y’all.

AFP may be singularly focused on Coffman’s race in Colorado due to the lack of any decent prospects higher up the ticket, but they’re not the only big guns on the right side of the aisle jumping into the fight to save him. In the Washington Post this weekend, iconic conservative columnist George Will himself devoted an entire column to talking up Coffman’s “reinvention” into…well, something most conservatives oppose:

After he was reelected with 66 percent of the vote in 2010, his district was gerrymandered to make it more Democratic — 20 percent Hispanic, with a generous salting of other minorities. He won in 2012 with just 48 percent of the vote. In 2014, national Democrats recruited a formidable opponent, a Yale University graduate who had taught, in Spanish, in Central American schools. So, Coffman learned Spanish well enough to do an entire debate in the language, and today banters in Spanish with the children at Roca Fuerte Academy…

Will goes on to describe how Coffman, who once called the DREAM Act a “nightmare” and told bilingual voters to “pull out a dictionary,” has switched positions on immigration and sponsored various stillborn efforts to pass at least part of the DREAM Act in recent years.

As we’ve discussed in this space many times, the question of Coffman’s “reinvention” since 2011 comes down to whether you find it believable, or merely shrewd politics. After all, Coffman’s Republicans majority leadership in the House has consistently ensured that none of these newer reforms Coffman has proposed go anywhere–and Coffman’s would-be change of heart of immigration has never motivated him to go after John Boehner or now Paul Ryan for killing them.

Setting that question aside though, we think the best explanation for so much attention being focused on Coffman’s race is that Republicans nationally are genuinely afraid of the consequences of losing, viewing CD-6 and Coffman’s political reinvention as a model for their whole party’s increasingly likely retreat from the wreckage Trump leaves behind after his own defeat in November. You don’t see this kind of fixation on a race they’re comfortable about. But if New Coffman® can triangulate his way through this election with the damage Trump is doing to the Republican brand, he blazes a trail for how other Republicans can do the same thing–now and in the difficult years that lie ahead.

That or Coffman goes down, and Republicans learn that not even abandoning their principles can save them.