George Brauchler Craps On Pueblo

George Brauchler.

An interview in the Pueblo Chieftain this weekend tries gamely to pump up GOP attorney general candidate George Brauchler, but seems more likely to leave local readers cold:

Brauchler was a GOP candidate for governor last year, but switched after Attorney General Cynthia Coffman signaled she would be leaving the AG’s office to run for governor…

Where Weiser has pledged to have Colorado join Pueblo County in suing big pharmaceutical companies for over-prescribing opioid drugs, Brauchler calls that pledge “reckless” — even though he says he wouldn’t rule out the state joining such a lawsuit eventually.

Pueblo has been hit unusually hard by the opioid crisis compared to other areas of the state, which is what prompted Pueblo County to join a nationwide lawsuit against opioid producers as well as pharmacy chains who distribute the drugs. The pharmaceutical industry is pushing back hard on this lawsuit and flexing its considerable political muscle to keep prosecutors like George Brauchler on the sidelines.

After that uninspiring response on a key local issue, the conversation turned to immigration:

On immigration, Brauchler said he doesn’t want Colorado police being coerced into enforcing federal immigration laws. But he also criticized Boulder and cities that have openly opposed cooperating with immigration arrests and detainment without a federal warrant.

To summarize, Colorado police shouldn’t be forced to help the feds, they should just…want to do it? That’s the best way we can interpret what seems to be a massive contradiction. The truth is that Brauchler is pretty much at liberty as a Republican candidate to engage in all the “sanctuary city” immigrant-bashing he wishes to–everywhere in the state except for Pueblo, where a somewhat more conservative-receptive Latino electorate offers a lucrative prize for Republicans who can nuance their message accordingly without tripping on their own words.

That’s pretty much the opposite of what Brauchler did in this interview. On opioids he’s aloof, and on immigration he’s all over the map. For swing voters in Pueblo, Brauchler did a fine job spelling out why he doesn’t deserve their support.

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Elections Matter: Trump Travel Ban Edition

Nyahhhhhh…

ICYMI, the U.S. Supreme Court today issued a mammoth ruling upholding President Trump’s “Muslim travel ban.” From the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that President Trump has the authority to ban travelers from certain majority-Muslim countries if he thinks it is necessary to protect the United States, a victory in what has been a priority since Trump’s first weeks in office and a major affirmation of presidential power.

The vote was 5 to 4, with conservatives in the majority and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing the opinion.

The president reacted on Twitter: “SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!”

Later, the White House issued a formal response that also took a swipe at his declared enemies. It called the ruling “a vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country.”

Lower courts had struck down each of the three iterations of the president’s travel ban, the first of which was issued in January 2017. The administration had been hopeful about the Supreme Court, because it had previously decided to let the ban go into effect while considering the challenges to it.

Regardless of your opinion on this issue, the Supreme Court’s ruling is a great reminder — on the day of Colorado’s Primary Election, no less — that elections have consequences. This doesn’t happen if Hillary Clinton is elected President; not only would Clinton not have instituted such a proposal, but she wouldn’t have nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

So go out and vote today.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (June 25)

Colorado’s Primary Election is almost over! Remember, friends: Ballots must be RECEIVED by your county clerk before 7:00 pm on Tuesday, so if you still haven’t voted, do NOT drop it in the mail. Check GoVoteColorado.com for more information on ballot drop-off locations. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

► The big prize(s) in Colorado Tuesday are the Democratic and Republican Party nominations for Governor. Tell us who you think is going to win the Democratic nomination and the Republican nomination.

The 2018 race for Governor is well on track to be the most expensive in state history. For more background information on the eight candidates for Governor, check out these profiles from the Colorado Independent. If you’re interested in other statewide races, Charles Ashby takes a look at the campaigns for Attorney General and State Treasurer for the Grand Junction Sentinel.

 

► A litany of Colorado elected officials traveled to the US-Mexico border to view the situation with immigrant families with their own eyeballs. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) visited McAllen, Texas, while Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) took his talents to El Paso. Coffman’s visit served mostly as a photo-op, which is par for the course for the Aurora Republican. Colorado’s House Speaker Crisanta Duran also travelled to the border to show off some new duds.

 

 The Supreme Court tossed a curveball on Monday in a high-profile battle over gerrymandering. From the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court on Monday sent back to a lower court a decision that Republicans in North Carolina had gerrymandered the state’s congressional districts to give their party an unfair advantage.

The lower court will need to decide whether the plaintiffs had the proper legal standing to bring the case.

The Supreme Court recently considered the question of partisan gerrymandering in cases from Wisconsin and Maryland. The court has never found a map so infected by politics that it violated the constitutional rights of voters.

But the justices did not rule on the merits of the issue. The court said plaintiffs in Wisconsin did not have the proper legal standing and that the Maryland case was in too preliminary a stage.

The newest Supreme Court Justice, Colorado’s Neil Gorsuch, sided with Justice Clarence Thomas. Here’s more from National Public Radio.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Well Played, Crisanta Duran

In the rush of coverage of officials on all sides visiting the southern border to investigate the family separations by federal immigration agents that have dominated the headlines for over a month now, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a nod to Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran–who arrived in Texas with her message to affected families on her…well, not sleeve exactly:

Take that, Melania Trump! Seriously, if a local clothing shop were to whip up a line of these jackets for sale, we know people who would buy them. We can’t imagine a finer local and woke fashion statement. And to our state’s first first Latina Speaker of the House, brava.

This is an image the the overwhelming majority of Coloradans will be proud to see.

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Mike Coffman Photo-Ops Family Separations Crisis

CBS4 Denver:

Thousands of children taken from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border are in detention centers, days after President Donald Trump reversed his “zero-tolerance” policy.

On Saturday, Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman traveled to the Texas border and toured one of the facilities. He spoke with children being held there.

Coffman says we must find a solution to reunite the families.

“The images that caused me to go down there and make a special trip, I mean to see children torn from their parents. I think that’s just fundamentally wrong,” he said.

There are of course very few politicians, particularly Republicans facing dicey re-elections, willing to look into any camera and say that the month-long PR debacle for the Republican Party as the Trump administration’s family separation policy has dominated the headlines has been a positive thing. GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, who was an anti-immigrant hardliner in the Tom Tancredo mold before his district was redrawn to include a diverse population in 2011, has received nationwide press for his call for White House strategist Stephen Miller to be fired over Miller role in crafting the Trump administration’s latest hateful backfire.

Since Donald Trump’s election, Coffman has faced much greater difficulty in holding together his strategy of both triangulating off the excesses committed in his majority party’s name while keeping base Republicans in his district happy enough to re-elect him–which has led to bizarre contradictions like Coffman stridently criticizing the Trump outrage of the week on immigration, while at the same time telling his base that Trump is “the only one within the Republican Party that can solve this issue.”

Coffman’s long record in Congress, which features many more actions malicious toward immigrants than in support of them and such incendiary rhetorical flourishes as “The DREAM Act will be a nightmare for the American people,” severely undermines his credibility on this issue with anyone familiar with his history. Unfortunately, in today’s short attention span media culture in which so many reporters writing political news are either out of work or were literally in grade school when Coffman succeeded Tancredo in Congress, the full reality of Coffman’s “evolution” on immigration–lacking in substance, and a politically-contrived ploy to survive what should have been a career-ending change of constituency–gets lost every election cycle.

We can’t say this often enough: Mike Coffman had a chance to support bipartisan immigration reform over and over, including in 2013 when it passed the Senate–and he opposed it. Before that time, Coffman was every bit as much an anti-immigration hardliner as the man he succeeded in Congress, Tom Tancredo. Since 2013, Coffman has played a complicated game of threading the needle on immigration, trying to suppress his old hard-line record without alienating the base Republican voters he still needs to be re-elected. All the while the situation has only gotten worse for immigrants, and the Republican leadership in Congress Coffman supports makes him look like a hapless stooge.

Is this the year Coffman’s triangulation long game finally crashes and burns? We won’t know–and his bellicose media surrogates will never concede even the slightest possibility–until the votes are counted.

But it’s wearing awfully thin.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (June 22)

If you still have a Primary ballot sitting on your kitchen table, you should take it to a ballot drop-off location rather than putting it in the mail at this point. Check GoVoteColorado.com for more information. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

► Congressional Republicans will NOT vote on an immigration reform proposal this week, because President Trump used Twitter. From CNN:

“Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November,” Trump tweeted. “Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!”…

…Now. The so-called “compromise” legislation — constructed by House Speaker Paul Ryan to make moderates and conservative happy — was already on life support before Trump came in and pulled the plug. A vote on the measure was originally scheduled for Thursday. It was then set for Friday. Then late Thursday, it was postponed until next week as GOP leaders insisted they saw a glimmer of hope to write a bill that might actually pass the House.

That hope is dead now. Imagine you are a conservative Republican resistant to the “compromise” bill because it provides a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. You now have every reason in the world not to come to the table and take a tough vote. The President literally said there was no point!

As Politico notes, Republican leaders in Congress appear to be completely mystified by Trump’s ever-changing immigration positions. The same goes for Republican strategists, who don’t agree with Trump that immigration is a good issue for the GOP in 2018. From the Washington Post:

Despite Trump’s tactical retreat on family separations this week, he continues to believe that immigration should be a defining issue of the 2018 elections and that it will galvanize the GOP base. This puts him at odds with most veteran Republican strategists, campaign managers and pollsters who think the party would be much better off focusing on the strong economy and the GOP tax cuts. But Trump believes he has superior political instincts than these experts and that his unexpected victory in 2016 proves it.

But two new polls suggest that immigration may not be as effective an issue for Trump in 2018 as it was two years ago. In fact, Trump’s fixation on building the wall and reducing the number of immigrants who are allowed into the country appears to be a key reason that those ideas are becoming less popular…

…Gallup found a record-low number of Americans — only 29 percent — think immigration into the U.S. should be decreased, which has been one of Trump’s core demands to congressional negotiators. A 39 percent plurality think immigration should be kept at its present level, while 28 percent say it should be increased.

Trump is also accusing Democrats of planting “phony stories of sadness and grief” along the US-Mexico border.

 

► Walker Stumbleton Stapleton appears to be headed toward a victory in Tuesday’s Primary for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Colorado Democrats are more than happy to see Stapleton atop the GOP ticket this fall.

 

 Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) is getting hammered by critics for pretending to send a letter to the Department of Homeland Security in protest of President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Thanks For Nothing, Scott Tipton (Dead Letter Office Edition)

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez).

As the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent reports, the Trump administration’s self-inflicted debacle over child separations along the southern border is tripping up GOP Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez–who is quickly emerging as a “reach goal” target for Democrats in the upcoming elections:

Two Democratic challengers who are seeking to replace Colorado’s 3rd District U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton are pressing the congressman after he Tweeted earlier this week about his position on U.S. border patrol family separations.

“I recently signed onto a letter w/ some of my colleagues to be sent to DHS, that expresses disapproval of the current policy of separating families & requests additional information on what is being done when a family arrives at the border in-between legal port of entry,” Tipton stated, responding to growing criticism of President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy of separating children from parents, before he signed an executive order Wednesday reversing the policy.

However, asked Wednesday for a copy of the letter outlining Tipton’s position on the issue, staffers in Washington, D.C. said they couldn’t immediately provide a copy.

Apparently, as of Wednesday the reason that Rep. Tipton could not provide a copy of this letter to the Department of Homeland Security is that it hadn’t been delivered yet! The crisis over family separations has been front page for nearly a month, and a major bone of contention for months prior to that, so a letter delivered Wednesday (or later, who knows) when President Donald Trump rescinded the policy that same day can be fairly categorized as totally meaningless ass-covering.

“I think that is classic Tipton, that he is trying to avoid taking a position on an issue because he doesn’t know which direction the political wind is blowing.” [Pols emphasis]

[Democratic CD-3 candidate Karl] Hanlon continued, “If I am sending this letter to the Department of Homeland Security, and speaking to a humanitarian crisis within our borders, I absolutely want my constituents to know what I said.”

In addition to the overwhelming public disapproval of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that led to families being separated at the border, Tipton’s district has been impacted by the Trump administration’s crackdown with documented shortages of both agricultural and seasonal resort labor. The state’s extremely low unemployment rate combined with visa programs for the needed labor that haven’t grown in decades is demonstrably holding back the economy in Tipton’s district.

And that’s before we even talk about Pueblo. In short there’s real danger for Tipton here, and he appears to already be well behind the curve in addressing the biggest headline in the national news today.

This isn’t a good year to be complacent.

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What Would Jesus Do? Jeff Hunt Has No Idea

UPDATE: A statement from faith leaders of the Colorado Governor’s Clergy Council slams the use of Christian liturgy to justify family separations:

Also Thursday, the Colorado Governor’s Clergy Council—comprised of 25 religious leaders in the state—issued a statement calling for further action from Congress to address the separation issue and for other state faith leaders to join them.

“From all different faiths, we can agree that the policy and practice of separating children from their parents is wrong and destructive on a number of levels. To use sacred texts to justify it is even worse,” the council said in a statement. “We encourage faith leaders to speak openly and honestly about these issues in their services over the coming weeks. We hope the faithful will look for opportunities to add their voices to this conversation and reach out to those who respect us in Congress. Our hope and prayer is that our Federal Government will act quickly and decisively to ensure that the most vulnerable are cared for and protected.”

—–

As the Atlantic’s Emma Green reports, some of the strongest criticism of President Donald Trump’s now-rescinded policy of separating undocumented families at the border–though not perhaps Trump personally–has come from his nominal allies on the religious right:

Over the past three weeks, conservative religious leaders have been steadily intensifying their condemnation of President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy on the U.S.-Mexico border, including the forced separation of children and parents who illegally migrated to the United States. Groups including the Southern Baptist Convention and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released anxious statements about immigration last week. Typically outspoken Trump supporters like Franklin Graham, the son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham and head of the charity Samaritan’s Purse, condemned the separations: During an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Graham said it is “disgraceful—it is terrible to see families ripped apart. And I don’t support that one bit.”

This is an unusual level of public pushback from conservative religious groups and leaders, many of whom have been extremely friendly to the Trump administration: Just as the Southern Baptist Convention passed its call for “immigration reform … maintaining a priority of family unity,” it also welcomed Vice President Mike Pence as a keynote speaker at its annual meeting.

But the volume of the criticism can also be deceiving. Many of the groups that have been most vocal against the border policy are already outspoken Trump skeptics. Among the ranks of Trump’s closest allies—including those who advise him on conservative religious voters—the condemnation has been more tempered.

In the case of Colorado’s foremost Christian conservative advocacy organization, Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute, the condemnation has been nonexistent. We haven’t found a single comment from CCU, the organization’s director Jeff Hunt, or anyone else affiliated with the organization. The separation of families at the border has been in the headlines for nearly a month now, but while the Centennial Institute has seen fit to weigh in on everything from abortion to the horrors of occupational licensing (not kidding), they’ve been totally silent on the issue.

In conclusion, the Centennial Institute’s motto is “Faith, Family, Freedom, Future.” But it would appear that in the case of their second F, “Family,” there are…exceptions.

That’s not something we’d want on our conscience on Judgement Day.

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BREAKING: Trump Formally Stops His Own Immigration Policy

UPDATE: As Aaron Blake summarizes for the Washington Post:

The Trump administration insisted it didn’t have a policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. It said that it was merely following the law. And it said “Congress alone can fix” the mess.

It just admitted that all that was nonsense — and that it badly overplayed its hand…

…It’s at once an admission that the politics of the issue had gotten out of hand and that the administration’s arguments were completely dishonest. Virtually everything it said about the policy is tossed aside with this executive action. It’s the political equivalent of waving the white flag and the legal equivalent of confessing to making false statements. Rather than letting Congress rebuke it, the White House is rebuking itself and trying to save some face.

—–

President Donald Trump signs an executive order to end family separations resulting from his own immigration policy. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

As Politico reports, President Trump needs some new talking points on immigration:

President Donald Trump signed an executive action Wednesday that ends the administration’s policy of separating migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, abandoning the president’s previous stance that only Congress can fix the problem.

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office, flanked by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence. “I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it. We don’t like to see families separated.”

Yet Trump said that he wanted to continue enforcing a strong policy at the border, an issue he campaigned on: “We are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”

The action came after Trump and his team faced harsh criticism from lawmakers, activists, religious leaders and former first ladies over the separation of children from their parents in custody, which was panned almost universally as cruel and damaging to the kids’ well-being.

If it seems like it was only a few days ago that Trump was blaming Democrats for this immigration policy fiasco…that’s because it was only a few days ago. That’s Homeland Security Secretary (for now) Kirstjen Nielsen in the background of the photo above.

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Rep. DeGette: DHS Secretary Nielsen Must Resign

Rep. Diana DeGette (D).

A press release from the dean of Colorado’s congressional delegation, Rep. Diana DeGette, calls for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to either resign or be terminated from her position over the unfolding crisis of family separations on the southern border:

Secretary Nielsen falsely blamed Democrats for the humanitarian crisis at a Monday press briefing and also issued a tweet stating, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” This denial comes in spite of a clear effort by the Trump administration to prosecute as many undocumented border crossings as possible, regardless of whether the individuals are crossing with children or whether they are seeking asylum.

“Enough is enough. Secretary Nielsen should resign or be fired from her post” DeGette said. “She has overseen an unprecedented humanitarian crisis ripping away thousands of young children from their parents without a clear path to reunification.

“Worse yet, she denies any culpability for this tragedy while inexplicably blaming Democrats for creating it, despite our long-standing efforts to oppose family separation and end this cruel practice. Secretary Nielsen’s complete lack of understanding of the law, total insensitivity to the plight of these families and blatant disregard for facts make her unfit to serve the public in this or any capacity.”

Nielsen’s claim that Democrats are somehow responsible for a deliberate policy change by the Trump Justice Department to charge everyone caught crossing the border without documentation with a criminal offense–echoed by President Donald Trump and other Republicans defending this highly controversial new policy–has been thoroughly debunked by every credible media outlet that has examined the question. There is no such precedent, and there is no similarity between the Trump administration’s decision to forcibly separate families and the humanitarian crisis faced by the Obama administration from unaccompanied minors arriving in the United States.

This allegation is particularly galling to congressional Democrats, who have tried to solve the underlying issues that provoked in this crisis for years, and certainly never took action against children to force the other side to “negotiate.”

In a perfect world, Republicans and Democrats who claim to oppose what is happening on the border would unite to demand this policy end–and its defenders to be held accountable. We’ll believe the Mike Coffmans of the world are serious in their protestations when they’re willing to put aside partisanship and set the record straight on this critical detail.

Because the Democrats. Had nothing. To do with this.

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Mike Coffman’s Campaign Mocks, Threatens Joe Salazar

“Team Coffman” Twitter account bio.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and his staff are apparently quite sensitive about President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that has led to the forced separation of thousands of children from the families at the US-Mexico border and generally created a massive problem for Republicans everywhere.

While Coffman has been working diligently to take all sides on this debate, his campaign staff has pursued a different approach via social media. On Tuesday, the “Team Coffman” Twitter account responded to a comment from Democratic Attorney General candidate Joe Salazar by repeatedly calling him fat and challenging him to a fight, or something.

No, seriously. You can see the screenshots of the entire exchange below.

We can’t say for sure who is behind these embarrassing posts from “Team Coffman,” though Coffman spokesman/campaign manager Tyler Sandberg often gets very punchy via Twitter. We’ll update this post if and when “Team Coffman” formally challenges Salazar (or other critics) to meet them by the flag pole after school to settle this once and for all.

As to the bigger question — what in the hell is wrong with these people? — well, we can’t even begin to answer that one.

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Only Mitt Romney’s Nephew Had The Courage

Mitt Romney’s Nephew.

With the crisis over President Donald Trump’s new policy to separate undocumented children from their parents at the border and house the children in internment-camp like facilities dominating the headlines, last night Republican candidates for governor of Colorado held their final debate before next Tuesday’s primary election. The issue of family separations naturally came up, and as Denver7’s Blair Miller reports, most of the responses were…disheartening:

The first question the candidates were asked was if they support the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border. If not, what would they do about it, they are asked?

Victor Mitchell said President Trump was “on the right track” to comprehensive immigration reform but said that the family separation was a “sad outcome.”

Greg Lopez said he “truly believes separating kids from their parents is something we don’t ever want to see.” But he said that parents are putting their children in harm’s way by bringing them to the border knowing they’ll be separated. “I support the fact that we’re following the rule of law,” he said. But he said they should be given the opportunity to understand they could come back legally.

The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul had frontrunner Walker Stapleton’s typically evasive answer:

Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton did not denounce the president’s action. “The last thing anyone wants to see is families broken up,” he said while blaming federal lawmakers for the problem.

Of the four Republicans running for governor, only one had the courage to say what every person with a conscience should have no problem saying loud and clear–Doug Robinson, who our readers know better as Mitt Romney’s Nephew, via Denver7:

Doug Robinson said he doesn’t support Trump’s policy. “This is not who we are as Americans. It’s not who we are as Republicans,” he said. [Pols emphasis] He said that families should be allowed to stay together and the criminal process should be expedited. Robinson said he believes Hickenlooper’s executive order was “political.”

Walker Stapleton said that the “last thing” anybody wants is to see families broken up. But he said he agrees with Trump’s actions. [Pols emphasis] He called for comprehensive immigration reform and said Congress needed to fix the policy.

Robinson is of course not expected to win next Tuesday’s primary, which may have relieved him of the obligation to follow the party line on this issue. And that’s a critical point: even though many Republicans in Washington have at least rhetorically turned against the Trump administration’s child separation policy, the only segment of the American public who supports what is happening here according to polls are base Republican voters. And those are exactly the voters these Republican primary candidates are competing for.

The Republican base has been so heavily radicalized in recent years that a policy like family separations, roundly condemned and seemingly at odds with fundamental American values has a haven of majority support within that party. While federal Republican officeholders blanch at the horrific video coming from the border camps, the Republican base revels in it. And Republican candidates are forced to embrace utterly toxic situations like the present humanitarian crisis on the border–or risk alienating the voters who decide Republican primaries. The winner is then left to explain themselves to a horrified general electorate.

All we can say is good for Mitt Romney’s Nephew–and God help the rest of them come November.

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Mike Coffman Takes All Sides in Immigration Debate

If Rep. Mike Coffman was a horse…

Congressional Republicans have been flailing around in the last few days trying to both express concern over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy while also making sure to avoid proposing any sort of actual change to enforcement efforts that are separating thousands of children from their families (well, except for Rep. Ken Buck, anyway). Democrats, meanwhile, are uniting behind legislative efforts to put a stop to the growing humanitarian crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, but there’s not much they can effectively accomplish without the support of some Republican lawmakers.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) popped up in several national stories on Monday after he released a statement indicating that he supported Senate Democratic efforts to stop Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy. This move surprised exactly no-one who has ever paid attention to Coffman; over his 30 years in elected office, Coffman has developed a well-deserved reputation for generally taking all sides of all issues at all times.  But a new story today points out a particularly-egregious example of Coffman’s doublespeak on immigration.

As CNN reports for the first time, Coffman quietly signed on to the Goodlatte bill on March 18; nine days later, Coffman voiced a request on the House floor to remove his name from the legislation. The reason this is important is because the Goodlatte bill was widely understood to be THE CONSERVATIVE OPTION for dealing with immigration reform. This, of course, is not at all consistent with Coffman’s attempts at forging a moderate image on immigration, let alone Coffman’s stated public support for offering undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

How does Coffman’s office explain this doublespeak? Here’s CNN:

A spokesman for Coffman said his initial support of the Goodlatte bill, which until now had not been reported, was his attempt to explore all options for an immigration fix. [Pols emphasis] The congressman withdrew his support, the spokesman added, once he realized the bill would not offer a permanent solution for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers.

“We were exploring all legislative avenues and that came aboard,” said Daniel Bucheli, a Coffman spokesman. “Then, looking at the details closer, it was clear there would be no permanent protection for DREAMers and at that point he took his name off it.”

Mike Coffman demonstrates the proper hand position for riding the fence.

This explanation is more than a little absurd, as CNN continues:

But the Goodlatte bill never offered DREAMers permanent protection, raising questions as to why it took Coffman nine days to realize the bill did not meet one of his primary immigration objectives. [Pols emphasis] The bill, which was widely known at the time as the conservative option to ongoing debates over immigration, was also rolled out on January 10, 2018, months before Coffman decided to attach his name to the proposal.

As part of that rollout, a one-page summary from House Judiciary provided on the bill made clear it would not offer a pathway to citizenship.

A spokesperson for the progressive group “Organizing for Action” told CNN that if you don’t like where Coffman stands on immigration, “just wait a few days.” It’s not intellectually honest for Coffman to pretend this isn’t accurate.

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Former Federal Prosecutors Call for End to “Zero Tolerance” Policy

John Walsh served as U.S. Attorney in Colorado from 2010-16.

As CNN reports:

A bipartisan group of more than 70 former US attorneys are calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse the Trump administration’s policy of prosecuting all people who cross the border illegally, saying it is “dangerous, expensive, and inconsistent” with the values of the Justice Department.

“Like the majority of Americans, we have been horrified by the images and stories of children torn from their families along our nation’s Southwest Border. And like a majority of Americans, we are appalled that your Zero Tolerance policy has resulted in the unnecessary trauma and suffering of innocent children,” the prosecutors wrote on Medium in a post published Tuesday morning.

The most visible byproduct of the Trump administration’s practice, known as “zero tolerance,” has resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents when apprehended at the border, because unaccompanied minors can only be held in immigration detention for a short period of time…

…the prosecutors in Tuesday’s letter say requiring 100% enforcement of the policy, without exceptions, was an “ill-conceived” plan.

“US Attorneys under both Republican and Democratic administrations have for decades been given discretion to determine how and when to charge misdemeanor illegal entry cases to address the needs of their districts,” they added. “Now, under your policy, because children cannot accompany their arrested parents to an adult criminal detention center, these children, apparently including infants and toddlers, are routinely separated from their parents.” [Pols emphasis]

Among the signers of the letter, which you can read in full at Medium.com, is former U.S. Attorney from Colorado John Walsh.

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Republicans Do Nothing as Children Pulled from Families

UPDATE: As NBC News reports, it’s getting increasingly difficult for the White House — and Congressional Republicans — to deflect blame for this crisis:

The idea of separating migrant children from their mothers was discussed during the earliest days of the Trump administration as a way to deter asylum-seekers, according to notes from a closed-door DHS meeting.

—–

John Moore/Getty Images

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration has led to thousands of children being forcibly separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. Every single Democrat in the U.S. Senate has now signed onto The Keep Families Together Act, which is intended to put a stop to this horrific policy. While many Republicans have spoken out against the practice of forcible separation, they aren’t taking any real action to force a change.

As Politico explains, this could be a telling moment ahead of the 2018 election:

Even as the White House blames Congress for the crisis at the border,GOP lawmakers are struggling to craft a proposal that unites their own party, let alone one that can win bipartisan support and become law. And with no congressional solution in sight, Hill Republicans worry that Trump’s immigration crackdown could swamp their success on the economy and overshadow all the things they want to run on in the midterm elections…

…And the renewed focus on immigration is almost all self-inflicted, from Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to his relentless focus on the border wall to his “zero tolerance” policy for border-crossers, which has already led to more than 2,300 children separated from their parents.

But the decision by the administration to separate children from their parents has elevated the issue to one now consuming national politics. Hugh Hewitt, a leading conservative media voice, raised the prospect that the family separation crisis could become “the Republicans’ new Katrina and the president’s new Katrina” in an interview with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) on Monday.

“The White House can fix it if they want to.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

Understanding why Congressional Republicans refuse to act on this growing humanitarian crisis is depressingly obvious. The results of three new polls are telling.

Polling data released in the last 24 hours by Quinnipiac University, Ipsos, and SSRS all show that the general public disagrees strongly with forcible separations. All three polls also show Republican support for these actions.

According to Quinnipiac, 66% of voters — including 91% of Democrats and 68% of Independents — oppose the Trump immigration policy, but 55% of Republicans support the “zero tolerance” decision:

Quinnipiac University (6/18/18)

 

According to Ipsos, 55% of respondents overall disagreed with the “zero tolerance” approach, with 46% of Republicans expressing support. Finally, a CNN/SSRS poll finds that 67% of Americans disapprove of the Trump immigration policies, while a majority of Republicans stand in support.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, when Republicans like Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) blame the parents of undocumented immigrants for being separated from their children. Some Republicans, such as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), don’t go as far as Buck but won’t do anything beyond issuing statements:


Senator Gardner thinks that Congress should do something. Democrats are doing something. It’s Republicans who are sitting on their hands.

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin makes a similar point about Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse in the Washington Post today:

The larger issue for Sasse and for other Republicans who have from time to time taken issue with the president is their abject refusal to translate rhetoric into action. [Pols emphasis] In legislation, in oversight and in the confirmation process, they routinely shrink from confrontation with the White House or their own leadership. Republicans do, after all, have the majorities in both houses and long ago could have voted to end child separation. They could, at any time, cease confirming judges or even refuse to go forward on any business until the wicked policy is ended.

Sasse, a former university president who holds a PhD in history from Yale, surely is familiar with the admonition, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil  [or wicked, in his telling] is for good men to do nothing.” Speaking, posting and tweeting don’t count as “doing.” Unless Sasse starts doing, he is enabling.

Republican elected officials do nothing because they are paralyzed in fear of their right-wing base and President Trump. As we’ve said many times in this space, refusing to take action is a choice in itself.

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Buck: Children Being Separated From Parents For Their Own Good

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Despite widespread condemnation of Trump’s mandate to separate immigrant children from their parents at the border, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) doubled down on his support for the Trump policy today, telling a radio host that the “children are being separated from their parents out of consideration for their own safety.”

In radio comments last week, Buck blamed the parents of the children, saying it’s “unfortunate” that immigrants choose to cross the border illegally.

And so it’s “just a sad reality that there is going to be some unfortunate separation of individuals when crimes are committed.”

On KOA radio this morning, host April Zesbaugh asked Buck if he agreed with U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) who called for the immediate cessation of the “policy that separates kids from their families.”

Buck:I rarely agree with Ed, but I like Ed a lot. But no, I think that it is terribly unfortunate when kids are separated from their families. But the reality is there has to be a responsibility taken by parents who bring kids to this country illegally or who don’t go through the proper asylum procedure when coming into this country. Putting kids in a detention facility with adults is a dangerous situation that’s not done in this country in our criminal system. And where these families are going are to detention centers. And so there is a public safety issue for these kids that has to be taken into account also. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s a terribly unfortunate situation. But I think that the Trump administration — and previous administrations — have had a tough time dealing with how to deal with — or how to address — families that are that are coming into this country legally.

On the same show this morning Perlmutter said Trump “of course” has the power to stop immigrant kids from being separated from their parents, pointing out that Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, launched the policy this year–and that under previous Democratic and Republican presidents, this did not happen to children at the border, even though past administrations had the power to do it.

“I think it’s illegal and it is immoral to be separating these kids from their families,” said Perlmutter, calling the situation an “emergency” in which kids are being “housed in cages.”

“It’s just wrong,” said Perlmutter.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (June 18)

Don’t forget to get those Primary ballots in the mail or deliver them to a nearby ballot drop (the latter option is probably better at this point). Check GoVoteColorado.com for more information. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

The Trump administration policy to separate innocent children from their families as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration is quickly becoming one of the biggest issues of 2018, with media outlets descending on Southern U.S. border areas to report on a sickening crisis. As the Washington Post reports, pushback from all sides has been swift:

President Trump doubled down Monday on his insistence that Democrats are to blame for the administration’s forced separation of migrant children from their families at the border, even as some Republicans urged him to reverse course…

…Contrary to Trump’s claims, the separations largely stem from a “zero-tolerance” policy announced with fanfare last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. As more families are stopped for illegally crossing the border, adults are taken to detention facilities that are effectively jails, and children are sent elsewhere.

The White House also has interpreted a 1997 legal agreement and a 2008 bipartisan human trafficking bill as requiring the separation of families — a posture not taken by the George W. Bush or Obama administrations. [Pols emphasis]…

…“The President should immediately end this family separation policy,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said in a lengthy Facebook post Monday. He said Trump doesn’t need Congress to change course on “the horrors of family separation.”

“The administration’s decision to separate families is a new, discretionary choice,” Sasse wrote. “Anyone saying that their hands are tied or that the only conceivable way to fix the problem of catch-and-release is to rip families apart is flat wrong.”

President Trump is trying hard to maintain his line that this hardline policy is somehow the fault of Congressional Democrats, but it is indisputably true that these enhanced enforcement measures began under the Trump administration. Here’s the New York Times:

President Trump remained resistant on Monday in the face of growing public outcry over his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border, repeating the false assertion that Democrats were the ones to blame for it, and suggesting that criminals — not parents — were toting juveniles to the United States…

…In a series of tweets and speeches on Monday, Mr. Trump instead relied on fear to curry support for a “zero tolerance” policy that refers for criminal prosecution all immigrants apprehended crossing the border without authorization. The president used the threat of gang violence and other crime, and a change in the fabric of American culture as a means to stoke support among supporters and push Congress into figuring out a way to drum up funding for his long-promised border wall.

Former First Lady Laura Bush is among the notable Republicans condemning the Trump policies, which she blasted in a harsh editorial published on Sunday. Meanwhile, Dara Lind explains for Vox.com why Trump’s strategy of blaming Democrats doesn’t work in this case:

As a matter of policy, the US government is separating families who seek asylum in the US by crossing the border illegally.

To be clear, there is no official Trump policy stating that every family entering the US without papers has to be separated. What there is is a policy that all adults caught crossing into the US illegally are supposed to be criminally prosecuted — and when that happens to a parent, separation is inevitable.

Still unconvinced that this policy actually comes from the Trump administration? Try this CBS News story.

► Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen today refused to apologize for the Trump administration policies — sparking calls for her resignationStephen Collinson and Lauren Fox of CNN wonder how long the White House can sustain this policy. NBC News takes a detailed look at life inside the chain-link fences at an immigration processing center in Texas.

 

► Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper today joined Governors from across the country in refusing to use state resources for the Trump administration’s family-separation enforcement methods :

For more local coverage on reaction to the Trump immigration policies, check out the Colorado Independent, the Longmont Times-Call, and the Grand Junction Sentinel.

 

 

 Colorado’s Primary Election finally concludes in about a week. Tell us who you think will win the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial nominations, respectfully. 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Lock Kids Up – Trump’s Border “Solution” for Prison Profits

LL at ICE protest

“Lucia” (not her real name)  speaks about the pain of being separated from her children by ICE. Photos by Amalthea Aelwyn, used with permission

Lucia’s* voice is cracking. She can’t hold back the tears as she describes being incarcerated in the  GEO Group ICE detention facility,  where a crowd is gathered now to hear her.

“Lucia”* fled her father’s abuse and horrific civil war in Guatemala to come to the US in 1998. She went to school here, but had to drop out of high school when her mother died of cancer.

“Lucia” has raised a family, worked, and made a life here, but when her husband was pulled over at a traffic stop, both were incarcerated in the ICE facility in Aurora. For a week, her  children had no idea where their parents were, or if they were alive or dead. They finally were able to post $1000 bond each, and are now working their way through the system, trying not to be deported, trying to keep their family together.

Cristian

Marguerite and Cristian addressing the crowd at Families Belong Together rally. Photo by Amalthea Aelwyn, used with permission

Cristian from Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition is a vibrant young man with a wide smile.  He is a student leader at his college.

But Cris is a Dreamer, and if DACA protections are rescinded, he could be deported at any time.

He tells the story of how his mother carried him and his young sister over the border, and how she has worked ever  since  to maintain the family.

“My mother has been on that waiting list (for citizenship) since 1999,” he said. “My whole family pays local taxes, we pay into Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security, we pay Federal taxes, local taxes, sales taxes. We pay for programs we will never benefit from. We’re helping to take care of our nation’s children, of our senior citizens. We are not a burden. The real burden is the moral burden Trump is imposing on this country with these policies.”

Marguerite, from Colombia, said,“ I see this building behind you and it pains me. It hurts. Because I would have to wait in line to see my son. He waited for months there to be deported back to Colombia.  There is no illegal human being on this earth. The only way we can become illegal is to break our laws and hurt each other. But we’re not doing that.”

Lucia, Cristian, and Marguerite are speaking to a diverse crowd of about two hundred people,  gathered in front of GEO group’s vast, windowless, grim ICE facility in Aurora on June 14, 2018, to protest the Trump administration’s new policy of separating families who are crossing the border.

I am part of this protest. We are here  because we feel that we must “do something” to stop the atrocity of tearing families apart and incarcerating the young children of families who come here seeking asylum.

Over 11,000 children have been separated from their families while crossing the southern border since March, according to NPR. About 46 kids a day are being torn away from their parents. This is not including the unaccompanied minors who were already showing up at the border by the thousands.

(more…)

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Trump Torpedoes Immigration Compromise

CNN reports, President Donald Trump has spiked the best-laid plans of more civil Republicans once again:

President Donald Trump on Friday morning delivered a potentially fatal blow to a compromise immigration bill under development in the House.

Trump said on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” that he is not planning to sign the negotiated measure.

“I’m looking at both of them. I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one,” Trump said. “I need a bill that gives this country tremendous border security. I have to have that. We have to get rid of catch-and-release.”

…The rejection of the compromise contradicts messaging from the White House in recent days.

Earlier this week, top White House adviser Stephen Miller, a known hardliner on immigration, was on the Hill telling key conservatives the White House was supportive of the negotiations on the bill, and House Speaker Paul Ryan told his GOP members behind closed doors that he had been in touch with Trump who was “excited” about the process.

But that’s not the story today–and Rep. Mike Coffman, who has staked a good chunk of his political future on getting a “compassionate” immigration reform deal through his hard-right Republican House leadership and on to the President’s desk, lashed out against Trump on Twitter earlier this morning:

Wow! But wait, isn’t this the same Coffman who said just a few months ago of the same Donald Trump:

“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]

Why yes, yes he was! And as far as the attempt to pass comprehensive immigration reform under President Barack Obama back in 2013–as we recall, didn’t Mike Coffman have something to say about that too?

I think both parties have it wrong right now. [Pols emphasis]

Well, scratch that then! As for President George W. Bush’s failed attempt at immigration reform, Coffman wasn’t in Congress then–but his predecessor Tom Tancredo was, and readers will recall that back then Coffman and Tancredo were much tighter on immigration than Coffman purports to be today. And here’s what Coffman said about Bush’s efforts back then:

 

And with that, our work is done here. There are Republicans in Congress today who have credibility when it comes to this long-vexing issue, and a consistent record of trying to find solutions so that doesn’t smack of contrivance and political desperation.

Mike Coffman is not one of those Republicans. In every way that counts, he is part of the problem.

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Ken Buck Blames Immigrant Parents for Separation from Children

(Ugh — promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) blames immigrant parents, not the Trump Administration, for the “sad reality” that some immigrant children will be separated from their parents at the U.S. border.

Appearing on KFKA radio in Greeley Wednesday, Buck said it’s “unfortunate” when immigrant children are separated from their parents, but it’s also “unfortunate” that immigrants choose to cross the border illegally.

And so it’s “just a sad reality that there is going to be some unfortunate separation of individuals when crimes are committed.”

Buck made the comments after KFKA host Gail Fallen noted that Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions is “under fire” for policies that “have resulted in immigrant children being separated from their parents after crossing the border illegally.”

She asked for Buck’s “take on that,” to which the northern Colorado Congressman replied:

Buck: I’ll tell you, Gail, I think it’s unfortunate when families are separated. But it’s also unfortunate when families make a decision to break the law [by coming here.] And there are consequences in this country. We are a country of rule – a country of laws. And we believe in the rule of law. And I think it’s just a sad reality that there is going to be some unfortunate separation of individuals when crimes are committed. I was a DA for years, a prosecutor for 25 years. And I was involved in making sure that those who are more dangerous and violated the law were  separated from the rest of society. And that’s part of what we do.

Critics of the policy of separating children from their parents say it’s cruel, and the United Nations human rights office has said it’s illegal, violating the immigrants’ rights and international law.

As the New York Times reported Tuesday:

The administration angrily rejected what it called an ignorant attack by the United Nations human rights office and accused the global organization of hypocrisy.

The human rights office said it appeared that, as The New York Times revealed in April, United States authorities had separated several hundred children, including toddlers, from their parents or others claiming to be their family members, under a policy of criminally prosecuting undocumented people crossing the border.

That practice “amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child,” Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Geneva, told reporters.

Buck’s office did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the United Nations stance.

On the radio yesterday, Buck went on to say he was optimistic that in the coming months “we will have a positive result” on immigration legislation.

GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that he expects a floor vote on immigration legislation in the coming weeks.

Listen here to Buck on Greeley’s KFKA radio June 6:

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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