UPDATE: Democrats work to deny Coffman any room to maneuver on immigration, The Hill's Alexandra Jaffe:
The House Majority PAC ad, shared first with The Hill, highlights the fact that Coffman has not yet signed a discharge petition aimed at forcing a vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Though nearly every Democrat in the House has signed the discharge petition, no Republicans have, and many in the GOP have indicated no desire to tackle the controversial issue in an election year…
Democrats see the issue as potent in the district, which is about 20 percent Hispanic, especially against Coffman, who was previously staunchly opposed to immigration reform before shifting early last year.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) left.
FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:
Congressman Mike Coffman called out a fellow Republican for opposing his proposal to allow undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship by serving in the military on Thursday.
Coffman, R-Aurora, called out Congressman Steve King, R-Iowa, a noted illegal immigration firebrand who Democrats have tried to sought to portray as a Coffman ally in an appeal to Hispanic voters.
“With all due respect, Steve King is dead wrong on the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act,” Coffman said in a statement, responding to King’s contention that his bill amounts to “amnesty.”
…Coffman, who faces a tough challenge from Democrat Andrew Romanoff in a re-drawn 6th Congressional District that now includes Aurora, supported a King proposal last year that would have ended deferred action, President Obama’s executive order sparing young people in the country illegally from immediate deportation. [Pols emphasis]
The context for this public-facing "disagreement," which Stokols notes embattled Rep. Mike Coffman's re-election campaign was quick to publicize, is a group of conservative House members who have announced their opposition to any "immigration riders" to the National Defense Authorization Act. That's the larger bill being debated, which Rep. Jeff Denham of California, supported by Coffman, hoped to amend. Politico:
“I oppose using the NDAA to push any immigration agenda,” [Rep. Mo] Brooks wrote in the letter asking colleagues to join his effort. “That is why I ask you to sign a letter to House leadership informing them that you oppose using the NDAA to push an immigration agenda of any kind.
“If immigration legislation is addressed by the House, it should be done so via the proper process, not by attaching it to must pass legislation,” the letter continues.
As you can see, the opposition to this amendment allowing some illegal immigrants who enlist in the military to gain citizenship is made up of a lot more Republicans than Rep. Steve King of Iowa, Congress' foremost anti-immigrant hardliner after Tom Tancredo left the building. The moderate California Republican Coffman is siding with in this dispute, Rep. Denham, is also a co-sponsor of the Democratic comprehensive immigration reform bill (H.R. 15)–which Coffman opposes.
With all of this in mind, it's quite clear that Coffman is using this intra-Republican disagreement to manufacture daylight between himself and unsightly erstwhile allies like Rep. King (see photo). The policy change Coffman is making a stink about, a path to citizenship for immigrants who join the military, is really quite narrow. Coffman's vote last year with Rep. King against the President's temporary reprieve granted to "DREAMer" undocumented students would have affected many more people, and stands in stark contrast to the impression Coffman wants this latest spat to leave. That vote was a major stumble for Coffman in his quest to reinvent his conservative image, and we don't see how his support for this much narrower proposal rights that wrong.
Especially since Coffman's friend Steve King, and lots of other Republican colleagues, mean to scuttle it.