As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, the controversy over Gov. John Hickenlooper's remarks earlier this week, in which he appeared to dismiss the aspirations of immigrants to obtain American citizenship, appears to be growing. After giving Hickenlooper a suitable period to retract his comments, the Colorado Latino Forum has run out of patience, issuing a strongly-worded statement this afternoon:
As the nation's Hispanic community Friday celebrated President Obama's executive order sparing 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, Colorado Latinos expressed their frustration with another politician — the state's Democratic governor…
"The Colorado Latino Forum is extremely disappointed in Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's recent statement regarding Latinos and citizenship," the statement began.
"The Colorado Latino Forum has long underscored that access to a path to citizenship is a key value that must be included in any meaningful future comprehensive immigration reform package that Congress debates.
"We are disappointed that immediately following his narrow re-election in which our community voted overwhelmingly for Governor Hickenlooper, his first comments regarding Latino issues demonstrate that he is out of touch with our community's priorities and values."
What we've heard is that just about every Latino interest and immigrant rights group in the state has called Gov. Hickenlooper's office to express their displeasure over what he said, and there has been no satisfactory response. The fact is, an eventual pathway to American citizenship for otherwise law-abiding, long term immigrants is a central goal of immigration reform proponents–who are deeply skeptical of the various "guest worker" programs that have been proposed as alternatives. We don't think Hickenlooper was trying to disparage immigrants' motives, but his statement that the "vast majority" of immigrants simply want to "get paid over the table" and "don't care about a pathway to citizenship" could be interpreted disparagingly. Either way, it's directly at odds with what immigration reformers are advocating for.
Whatever his intentions, this comment — and a wealthy, white politician purporting to tell a minority community what they really want — isn’t sitting well with Colorado’s Latino community…
Bottom line: the pressure may be off Hickenlooper electorally for four years, but since his re-election we've been wondering if that might result in more rigorous accountability from his left–on a variety of issues where Hickenlooper has run afoul of base Democrats, or even good politics. There has been a tendency this election season to pull punches on Hickenlooper, so as to not assist Bob Beauprez's campaign.
As of today, it looks like Hickenlooper's second honeymoon is over.