Immigration Reformers Await Gardner, Coffman Votes Today

UPDATE #2: Salon.com's Luke Brinker:

Endorsing Rep. Cory Gardner’s campaign against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado this fall, the editorial board of the Denver Post assured readers that Gardner was not the extremist Udall and Democrats depicted…

It turns out that maybe Gardner didn’t really mean all that stuff about being warm and fuzzy and moderate. Sure, he did what he needed to do during the campaign — voting against a bill, sponsored by Tennessee congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, that would have blocked deportation relief for those who came to the U.S. as youth. But today, Gardner lined up with Tea Party conservatives to support Florida Rep. Ted Yoho’s bill to prevent President Obama from carrying out his executive order granting deportation reprieves to unauthorized immigrants with family ties and expanding the program that allows migrants brought to the country as youth to remain in the U.S.

—–

UPDATE: Rep. Mike Coffman one of only seven Republicans to vote against today's bill symbolically chastising President Barack Obama for his immigration executive order, while Cory Gardner votes yes–FOX 31:

Gardner, who defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and is positioning himself as a moderate within the GOP Senate caucus, voted with a majority of House Republicans in support of Rep. Ted Yoho’s bill that seeks to bar the executive branch from delaying deportations.

Coffman, who pummeled Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff in a re-drawn and newly diverse 6th Congressional District largely on the strength of his outreach to Latinos and other immigrant communities, was one of just seven House Republicans to vote against Yoho’s bill.

Gardner immediately released a statement following the vote, explaining that he opposes the president’s unilateral action but not comprehensive immigration reform overall…

“I voted against H.R. 5759 because, although I strongly believe that it is unconstitutional to have immigration policy made through executive orders and without the consent of Congress, this legislation will only mislead the American people into believing that we are taking care of the problem when the only way to address President Obama’s overreach is either through the U.S. Supreme Court or through the appropriation’s process,” Coffman said.

—–

Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

A press release from local immigration reform advocates and the Service Employees International Union challenges Colorado Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman to align their votes with their campaign rhetoric this year, as the House prepares to vote in symbolic opposition to President Barack Obama's executive order later today:

After two years of failing to take up any attempt at meaningful immigration reform in the House, now Republicans have announced that in response to President Obama’s executive action on immigration, they’ll be voting tomorrow to undo the action. While the vote is largely symbolic as it would not pass in the US Senate, it’s a gesture that Republicans see as a way to express their anger at the President for taking steps within his authority to fix the immigration system on his own.

However, the bill is a direct attack on millions of immigrant families and DREAMers whose lives changed because of this new program and the President’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The bill set to be voted on tomorrow was introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and it would undo both the programs initiated by the President that have and will allow millions to come out of the shadows and apply for legal status and work permits…

Juan Carlos de la Cruz, SEIU Local 105 Executive Board Member, said “Tens of thousands of undocumented Colorado immigrants have lived here for years, worked hard to provide for their families and do their part. With the President’s new program, they’ll finally be able to get papers and contribute more to this state that’s become their home. I can’t believe that Republicans are already trying to take this away and subject them to deportation all over again. I call on Cory Gardner and his fellow Republicans to reject this extremist bill and stand up for immigrants and their families.”

“President Obama just stepped up to begin solving a problem that Republicans have been refusing to address for years. And, he’s improved the lives of millions by taking action. If Republicans don’t like what he did, nothing is stopping them from passing the bipartisan bill sitting on their desk that would solve this problem once and for all,” said Patty Kupfer, Denver-based Managing Director of America’s Voice. “Cory Gardner has said he’s a new kind of Republican. Well, these are the same old Republican tactics to do nothing and then blame Obama. Tomorrow we’ll see whether or not he’s willing to stand up to his party and do the right thing.”

We haven't heard anything from either Gardner or Coffman on how they intend to vote today, but Gardner's previous statements about President Obama's executive order are not encouraging. Most debate over the legality of Obama's order is among conservatives, including 17 red states that filed suit yesterday–this despite persuasive arguments from legal experts that the executive order was not just legal, but in line with similar actions taken by Republican presidents.

We'll update after today's vote. Did Gardner and Coffman's newfound support for immigrant rights survive November 4th? We're about to get our first indication.

Marble, Lundberg suggest CO should help pay for TX border security program

(But would they give up TABOR refunds to do it? - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

As House Republicans are poised to vote to stop Obama's executive order to halt deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, two Colorado State Senators are saying Colorado should contribute tax dollars to Texas Governor Rick Perry's efforts to secure the southern border.

Calling Obama's action "nuts" and arguing that "you've got to first secure the border," Assistant Republican Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg said in a recent radio interview that Texas has "spent probably $100 million in the last several months helping to show that you can secure the border. I’m all for Colorado stepping up and being a part of the solution."

Tea Party radio host Ken Clark, who asked Lundberg about immigration during the interview, aired Nov. 19 on KLZ 560-AM, responded enthusiastically to Lundberg's idea to give state money to Texas.

"Senator, that is something I would definitely applaud funding. I think that is very important," Clark told Lundberg on air. "I think it affects all of us, even here in the state of Colorado. Senator Marble, what say you?"

"…I agree. It’s exactly the way I feel," responded State Sen. Vicki Marble, who's the new Republican State Senate Caucus Chair.

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Both Marble and Lundberg told Clark they believe Texas is demonstrating to the federal government how to secure the border.

"We could secure the border if the federal government would show some backbone, even as the state of Texas has," Lundberg told Clark.

"If people could just go down [to Texas] and see, and have the opportunity to see what we saw and do what we did, they would understand," Marble told Clark. "This is so critical. And I agree with Senator Lundberg on what he said about the steps to take. I believe it is very necessary."

Lundberg said Texas legislators asked him, during a November fact-finding mission to the Texas, if Colorado could help pay for Texas' border security efforts.

Listen to Marble and Lundberg here:

(more…)

More on why we know immigrants aren’t spreading disease

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Last week I reported that Tea-Party radio hosts Ken Clark (KLZ 560-AM) and Peter Boyles (KNUS 710-AM), along with Colorado's GOP State Senate Caucus Chair Vicki Marble, believe undocumented immigrants, as Marble put it, "bring the diseases. They bring whatever from across the border — things we haven’t seen in decades and thought we eradicated. Our whole country is at risk.”

There's no credible evidence for this, like there wasn't for attacks on immigrants throughout American history, but how do we know this?

"You have to assume that if [undocumented immigrants] get sick they are going to get medical care or die," said Dr. Michelle Barron in the infectious disease department of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.. "There is a long list of diseases that hospitals must report to the health department. Tuberculosis. Measles. Let’s say you came to the emergency room after traveling in Russia, and you have measles. That’s considered 24-hour-reportable. You would then be contacted by the health department and asked questions about vaccinations and where you’ve been. They would identify how big of a scope this would be."

"Public health departments actually report these things," Barron continued. "There's public reporting. The information wouldn’t be hidden in the background because of a political agenda. It’s part of the reporting that has to happen. If there is a trend, that would be investigated."

And, she added, if a serious disease outbreak or threat existed, it would be "all over the news," not left to the investigators on talk radio only.

But what happens if we can’t find the immigrants, I asked.

"The public health department has lots of experience hunting people down," she said. "They will go to your door. There are always the few people who won’t talk or answer the door, but they have their networks of people who will talk, even in homeless communities. Homeless people don’t want to get disease either. They will talk. The public health department is more savvy than people realize."

How to convince skeptics like Clark and Marble?

"Really and truly, you have to trust that the health care workers are doing the right thing," said Barron. "If you have already decided what you feel about this, no matter what evidence you are presented with, you are not going to believe it."

For more information, including a transcript of the Marble interview, click here.

 

Sen. Marble delivers falsehood that immigrants bring eradicated “disease”

(Your Senate majority leadership in action - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Warning: KLZ talk-radio host Ken Clark tells me the following blog post is a "hit piece consisting of lies and deceit in order to continue to manipulate the public and your readers at the expense of an elected official who is simply tying to protect her constituents." If only this were true….

The elected official Clark refers to is Republican State Sen. Vicki Marble. At issue is a searing falsehood Marble delivered to Clark on his nooner Freedom 560 show on KLZ 560-AM Nov. 19:

Marble: “Those illegals infiltrate into the system, of the United States, and they bring the disease. They bring whatever from across the border — things we haven’t seen in decades and thought we eradicated. Our whole country is at risk.”

A lengthy search (still in progress) for a factual basis backing up Marble yielded nothing, and I asked Clark why he didn't correct her on air:

Clark: The evidence is overwhelming that we are facing a health risk due to our administrations failure to protect our boarders and as a result are continuing to put our citizens at risk. Senator Marble is 100% correct when she states this fact and by failing to accept the truth and the evidence you are simply attempting to attack a public servant rather than seek the truth. She has been briefed by the Colorado Center for Disease Control as well and is privy to information that is not public, maybe you should try to get some information from them. [BigMedia emphasis]

I asked the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment if there was any evidence that undocumented immigrants are bringing any disease, much less ones that we thought were eradicated, into Colorado.

"CDPHE is not aware of any such evidence," was the simple answer from Mark Salley, CDPHE spokesperson.

(more…)

Latinos Slam Hickenlooper’s “Path To Citizenship” Dismissal

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

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.

GOP Responds to Obama Immigration Action…With Lawsuit About Healthcare

We wrote earlier this week about the immigration issue and President Barack Obama's pending executive order to address the topic as Congress refuses to act. Here's the final paragraph from our post on Wednesday:

There's no way around it for the GOP: When they take control of both the House and Senate in January, they can either move forward with immigration reform or not. There is nobody left for Republicans to blame if they don't take action themselves. The GOP painted themselves into a corner with inaction on immigration, and the only way out is to make their own footprints. Ultimately, if Republicans don't actually move on the issue, 2016 voters aren't going to care why they failed to act with their Congressional majority — as Yoda might say, there is only "do" or "do not."

Facepalm city in Congress

Sigh. As CNN reports, House Speaker John Boehner just…WTF?

House Speaker John Boehner said Friday he has sued the Obama Administration in federal court over its decisions to make changes to the President's health care law, which congressional Republicans argue were unconstitutional.

The move was expected for months — the GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted to approve the lawsuit in July. But Boehner had trouble retaining a law firm that would take the case because of the political furor over the controversial health care law…

…News of the lawsuit came just minutes after Boehner held a press conference on Friday to respond to the President's plan to circumvent Congress in order to make sweeping changes to the nation's immigration system by executive order.

The one-two punch from Boehner marks a new era of tension between Republicans who will officially take over Congress in January, and the President who has signaled that despite his party's losses in the midterms, he plans to proceed with his agenda without GOP cooperation. [Pols emphasis]

As CNN points out, Boehner struck out — twice — on trying to find a law firm to sue over Obamacare until convincing a George Washington law professor to take the case. But the very fact that Republicans would allow this lawsuit to become their de-facto response to Obama's executive order on immigration absolutely boggles the mind.

Aside from making some folks in the Tea Party happy, what do Republicans possibly think they can accomplish here?

Talk-radio hosts broadcast from Denver, but where do their hearts reside?

If you live in Denver or send your kid to public school or get involved in our community in even the most limited way, you probably know families who will benefit from Obama's announcement to stop the deportation of some undocumented immigrants with family ties to our country. And you know we'll be better for it, our humanity, our economy, our soccer teams. It gives you hope.

The Republican radio hosts, quoted below, broadcast their shows from Denver, but you wonder if their hearts reside somewhere else:

KHOW's Michael "Heck-of-a-Job" Brown Nov. 19:

Brownie: The people who are, you know, mowing your yards, or fixing your roof, or doing whatever they happen to be doing – those low-skilled workers. I ran into one today over at the Sonic, bless her heart. I’m not sure she could read or write, but she managed to get the order straight, so I guess I should be happy, right? Listen to Brown 11.19.14

KOA 850-AM's Mike Rosen Nov. 19:

Rosen: I think the chip [Obama] has on his shoulder is that he doesn’t want to be pushed around by these white Republicans in the House when they had a majority, and now he doesn’t want to be pushed around by white Republicans in the Senate, now that they’ll have a majority in January. He’s looking at so much of this through a racial prism, and I think that’s his hangup. Listen to Rosen 11.19.14

KNUS 710-AM's Dan Caplis on Wednesday:

Caplis: But we have the President now on the brink, on the brink of essentially tearing up the Constitution. Looks like that “tearing up ceremony”– you know, we get so upset, as we should about flag burning. You know, this president is just going to burn the Constitution. And it’s going to be formally scheduled Friday in Las Vegas. Listen to Caplis 11.19.14

To be fair, most outraged talk-radio hosts say they want something done about immigration, just like many of the Republicans in Washington.

Rosen: We’ve waited so long to address the problem of the 11 or 12 million people who are here illegally, we can wait a little longer. We can wait another year. And a year should give us time to make some real progress on border security. Once that’s done, then the Republicans will be willing to compromise.

Nothing Obama did yesterday stops Congress from passing immigration-reform legislation, Mike. Meanwhile, this allows some families to be home together for the holidays and then get back to work without fear of their lives being torn apart.

Hickenlooper Unfiltered Again–The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As Americans wait to hear from President Barack Obama this evening on the subject of immigration reform executive orders, the Wall Street Journal interviewed Colorado's recently re-elected Gov. John Hickenlooper yesterday–and some of Hickenlooper's remarks are raising eyebrows today. As reported by WSJ's Reid Epstein, Hick began with some indirect criticism of Sen. Mark Udall's unsuccessful re-election campaign that we think is shared by many Democrats:

“We stayed on the economy the whole time,” he told Wall Street Journal reporters and editors Wednesday. “We kept coming back to the economy. These are objective sources ranking state economies across the country and we are in the top four of every major assessment.”

Mr. Hickenlooper’s victory explanation came as an inherent rebuke to Mr. Udall, who lost to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner after running a heavily negative campaign focused on social issues. Mr. Udall skipped an appearance on his behalf at a Denver fundraiser – and Mr. Hickenlooper said it was a mistake to reject a visit from the president of the United States.

“My gosh, the president of the United States calls you and you’re going to say ‘No,’?” Mr. Hickenlooper said. “The president of the United States calls and asks for your time, I think generally you should find a way to do it.”

We wanted to start with this comment from Hickenlooper about Mark Udall's decision to avoid President Obama even as Obama campaigned in Colorado on Udall's behalf, because we think it's dead-on. In retrospect, we do not believe that hiding from Obama helped Udall in the least. On the contrary, the Democratic base cheered pictures of Hickenlooper and the President shooting pool together at the Wynkoop Brewery.

The consensus view since the election is that Udall's intense focus on abortion and women's reproductive issues–particularly when that came at the expense of articulating Udall's own case for re-election–was a major strategic blunder. Hickenlooper was criticized during the campaign for refusing to "go negative" against his opponent, who had an enormous wealth of negatives to work with. Instead, Hickenlooper stayed positive, focused on the state's strong economy recovery, and in the end was vindicated by re-election in a very strong Republican year.

So there's that, and we think a lot of readers will agree. But then Hickenlooper turns to the issue of immigration, apropos with Obama's announcement coming tonight. And Democrats waiting nervously since the election can reset their counters–the number of days without a major trip off the proverbial reservation by Hickenlooper is once again zero:

Immigration: Mr. Hickenlooper predicted Mr. Obama’s executive action, to be announced Thursday, will “be very combustible.” He proposed that instead of pushing Congress to enact last year’s Senate legislation, the White House should give up on the path to citizenship that has most inflamed opponents to an immigration overhaul.

“What’s amazing to me is, a lot of young Latinos, the vast majority don’t care about a pathway to citizenship,” Mr. Hickenlooper said. “They want to be able to get on an airplane and get down to Mexico City and visit their grandparents. And they want to get a job and be able to get paid over the table. Why don’t we just take the pathway to citizenship and say, ‘We’re not going to worry about it.’ Let’s have a robust guest worker system where everybody gets five years and we secure the border and we actually hold business accountable if they’re going to pay people under the table.”

There's really no way to spin these comments. Immigration reform advocates we've heard from are absolutely furious over the suggestion that "the vast majority" of immigrants don't want a pathway to citizenship. We don't think Hickenlooper intended this, but these comments could be interpreted as demeaning to the many immigrants who most certainly do want to become American citizens, and who have served as the face of the immigration reform movement for many years. Frankly, we'd like to know more about where Hickenlooper got this stuff, but in the meantime there seems to be consensus that these comments were not helpful to the larger goal of enacting comprehensive immigration reform.

We're watching, as we've seen with previous "Hickengaffes," to see this promptly walked back.

Obama’s Immigration Executive Order and the GOP’s Problem(s)

Obama Immigration Action

President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak to the nation tomorrow night to reveal his plan for an executive order to address the issue of illegal immigration. The move is expected to be made official during an event at a Nevada high school on Friday. As CNN reports:

Obama's prime-time address [on Thursday] will be followed Friday by an event in Las Vegas, sources tell CNN. While exact details of his announcement aren't yet public, the basic outline of the plan, as relayed by people familiar with its planning, includes deferring deportation for the parents of U.S. citizens, a move that would affect up to 3.5 million people.

"Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken. Unfortunately, Washington has allowed the problem to fester for far too long," Obama said in a video posted on his Facebook page Wednesday. "And so what I'm going to be laying out is the things that I can do with my lawful authority as President to make the system work better, even as I continue to work with Congress to encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem."…

…The President declared in June he wouldn't wait for Congress to pass a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system, initially saying he would announce changes by the end the summer. The decision was delayed until after the midterm elections, when the White House believed it wouldn't be caught up in campaign politics.

But Republicans are expressing deep anger at the anticipated move, saying unilateral action on immigration would forestall any legislative action.

Republicans are revving up the angry rhetoric machine, but they need to be careful how they respond to President Obama's executive order (EO). Every political journalist in the country knows this has been coming for some time, and the message has been clearly sent that President Obama's actions are a direct result of Republican inaction on the issue, so there's no room for Republicans to feign surprise at this point. The Obama administration has also made it clear that the President expects the GOP to move on this issue eventually; they have been up front about acknowledging that an EO should not be a substitute for Congressional legislation and should be replaced by a broader legislative change, which puts the ball squarely in the hands of Republicans once the order is signed.

While the President's EO is an important step for the immigration issue in general, in many ways this is also going to be a story of Republican inaction. As Jonathan Capehart explained in the Washington Post on Monday:

The introduction of a new report from American Bridge about Obama’s forthcoming executive action succinctly details what the president did over the course of a year to allow House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to move on the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate with 68 votes in June 2013…

…If congressional Republicans don’t want Obama to take action on immigration, they should move on the comprehensive immigration reform bill sitting in the House. In the meantime, as I’ve written before, if the president is going to make people mad, he might as well do it to help people and let the GOP figure out what to do with the poisoned chalice of their own making.

Reagan and Bush Sr

Presidents Reagan, left, and Bush Sr. provide cover for Obama’s pending Executive Order.

President Obama is certainly making Republicans angry, even drawing out new threats of impeachment over the pending EO. But again, Republicans need to be careful not to go too far down the rhetoric hole, because railing on and on about the constitutionality of Obama's decision puts them at odds with history. Two other Presidents have acted alone on immigration reform: Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Republicans will argue that those actions took place under different circumstances, but that's just semantics; it's hard to call Obama out for something that was also done by two previous Republican Presidents. In fact, Executive Action providing discretionary relief from deportation has been used by every President since Eisenhower.

Furthermore, Republicans will have trouble trying to make the President's EO seem more nefarious than it is. Alicia Caldwell of The Associated Press does a good job in breaking down what Obama can and cannot do via Executive Order, which largely involves deferred action through clear policies of enforcement and resource allocation. Obama can't "change the law" on immigration any more than you can, and the Administration has worked for months — along with other partners — in laying out the facts for the media to counter ridiculous charges from Congressional Republicans that the President won't work with them on the issue. Don't believe us? Check out today's editorial in the Denver Post calling on Republicans to stop complaining and get to work on their own legislation.

There's no way around it for the GOP: When they take control of both the House and Senate in January, they can either move forward with immigration reform or not. There is nobody left for Republicans to blame if they don't take action themselves. The GOP painted themselves into a corner with inaction on immigration, and the only way out is to make their own footprints. Ultimately, if Republicans don't actually move on the issue, 2016 voters aren't going to care why they failed to act with their Congressional majority — as Yoda might say, there is only "do" or "do not."

 

In classic dodge, Gardner refuses to take government shutdown off the table

(Joke's on you – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Warning to Washington DC reporters: Here comes Senator-elect Cory Gardner! Gardner tried to slither past Colorado reporters by answering questions with falsehoods (See personhood.) or responding to queries with predictions about the future, instead of answers to the actual questions (See immigration.).

Now Gardner is trotting out his trademark "answer-a-question-by-saying-two-things-at-once" for Washington journalists and getting away with it!

Asked by ABC's “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos Sunday if Gardner's promise to be serious about governing means "taking things like shutting down the government off the table," Gardner replied:

"The government shutdown is a bad idea anytime, anywhere."

Translation: I won't answer your question because I don't want to rule out a government shutdown, but I want to make reporters think I won't vote to shut down the government (winky, wink to the Tea Party).

If you're thinking, give me a break, Republicans like Gardner won't shut down the government again, you should read Sen. Jeff Sessions' not-so-veiled threat to shut down the government to prevent Obama from stopping the deportation of some immigrants, as he's apparently planning to do this year. Talking Points Memo's Sahil Kapur reports in a piece titled "Top GOP Senator Hints at Government Shutdown Fight over Immigration:"

(more…)

Gardner’s Immigration Tap Dance Continues As Senator-Elect

faceimm

GOP Sen.-elect Cory Gardner appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos yesterday, in one of his first national media appearances since his victory last Tuesday. For many viewers who haven't followed the Colorado U.S. Senate race closely, this was a chance to see the much-balleyhooed Colorado Republican wunderkind in action:

“I think it’s important that Republicans show that we can govern maturely, that we can govern with competence,” Gardner added. “And if we do that, in two years from now, we’ll have a good result again with our nominee. If we don’t, we’ll see the same results two years from now, but in a different direction.”

Gardner struck a conciliatory tone on “This Week,” saying that shutting down the government “is a bad idea anytime, anywhere” and  that although he supports repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, it was not a feasible option while President Obama still occupies the White House…

So far so good, right? At this point, we take Gardner at his word when he says that shutting down the government is a bad idea: it's what he believes now, at any rate. But on the topic most likely to come up in Washington over the next few weeks–Gardner's last few weeks in the U.S. House–old-fashioned finger-pointing intransigence seems set to prevail once again no matter what Gardner says:

Gardner said he hopes President Obama will “do the right thing” and work with Congress on immigration reform rather than taking executive action on his own before the end of the year.

“The question is this: Will the president do the right thing? And I think the president will do the right thing when it comes to immigration reform. And that is working with the House and the Senate instead of going around the House and the Senate,” Gardner said.

It's important to understand the different messages coming from different Republicans right now on immigration reform, and how they essentially guarantee inaction. Republicans are universally opposed to any executive action President Barack Obama may take. At the same time, the President's delay of such action until after the now-over election season greatly upset immigration reform proponents, who view the consequences of each day of inaction to be disastrous. The dramatic increase of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S. border is just the latest symptom of a crisis that has been building for almost three decades.

With that in mind, you'd think Republicans would be singing Gardner's tune about passing some legislation without delay, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who was heavily involved in efforts to achieve immigration reform in the House earlier this year, said that the lame duck simply does not offer enough space for such a complicated issue.

“No, not in the lame duck,” he said when Breitbart News asked him about the prospect of immigration reform after the midterm elections and before the end of the year…

House Speaker John Boehner has said a number of times that lawmakers simply do not trust Obama enough to move forward…

Quite the conflict being set up here: Gardner says that Obama must not not take any executive action on immigration, which Obama has vowed to do citing exigent need for action to be taken. But Republicans also say that immigration reform legislation is a nonstarter during the "lame duck" session on Congress this year. Furthermore, Speaker John Boehner says there's "no trust" from Republicans in Obama to enforce what they pass, which makes you wonder how he has any plan to work with the President at all. Not to mention, though Gardner hasn't said it (yet), that executive action by Obama on immigration has been met by threats of impeachment. If this sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen, you're probably right.

This would be a great moment for a newly-elected Senator from Colorado, with six years before his next election, to step up and underscore his fair-sounding words with action. Gardner has frequently paid empty lip service to immigration reform in the last couple of years–a "Thanksgiving tradition"–but when given the chance to support bipartisan immigration reform, Gardner has either done nothing, or in perhaps his most telling action on the issue, actually helped kill GOP Sen. Marco Rubio's reform bill when it reached the House. When Gardner tells George Stephanopoulos that he "has supported immigration reform," one must assume that support came in a form other than votes.

Gardner will have more chances to do the right thing, but this wasn't a very auspicious start.

Coffman Not a Good Debater in Spanish, Either

Denver Post reporter Jon Murray, top, and Associated Press reporter Nick Riccardi Tweeting during yesterday's debate.

Denver Post reporter Jon Murray, top, and Associated Press reporter Nick Riccardi Tweeting during yesterday’s Spanish-language debate in CD-6.

Yesterday Republican Rep. Mike Coffman and Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff participated in the first Spanish-language debate in Colorado history.

While Coffman seemed to have trouble with the language — his campaign has backpedaled significantly from touting Coffman's Spanish-language prowess — he nevertheless managed to flip-flop on a key issue. In 2011, Coffman proposed amending the Voting Rights Act to eliminate the requirement that ballots be printed in different languages. It was a surprise, then, when Coffman stated his belief that bilingual ballots are important. As Jason Salzman noted, this appears to be the first time Coffman has ever offered a different position on bilingual ballots.

For a good rundown of the entire event, we turn to the Aurora Sentinel:

Republican incumbent Mike Coffman, a recent student of Spanish, did his best to keep up with the language skills of his Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff. Due to his time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica, Romanoff is fluent in Spanish and used his familiarity with the language to go on the offensive at Coffman’s expense, attacking his record of historically voting against policies intended to reform immigration laws. Coffman didn’t offer much defense to Romanoff’s barbs and appeared to stick to a prepared set of talking points, frequently glancing at the podium in front of him. He touted his backing of a military version of the DREAM act, called the ENLIST act, which would allow for children brought to the U.S. illegally to become members of the military and obtain citizenship…

“Does Congressman Coffman really think memorizing a new script is enough to mask the harm he’s done to the Hispanic community throughout his career?” Romanoff said in a statement after the debate. “Mr. Coffman’s record doesn’t sound any better in Spanish.”

At the end of the debate, Romanoff said his comments and philosophies were heartfelt and Coffman was providing nothing more than a “script.” The comment drew audible response from the audience. [Pols emphasis]

If you weren't already aware, both candidates received the questions in advance of the debate at the request of Coffman's campaign — which was obvious throughout the debate as Coffman largely repeated memorized responses. Coffman supporters like to say how nice it is that Coffman is trying to learn Spanish, and while that sentiment carries some truth to it, Coffman is clearly getting more credit than he deserves for his Spanish-language skills. Agreeing to debate in Spanish was a noble effort by Coffman, we suppose, but he's obviously not fluent enough to participate in a forum of this nature.

We've said it before after watching numerous other debates between Coffman and Romanoff, but it bears repeating here as well: If debates decided the outcome of elections, Romanoff would be on his way to a blowout victory on Tuesday. Perhaps there is a third language in which Coffman could win a debate with Romanoff, but you can mark English and Spanish off the list.

Pollsters (Still) Getting Latino Vote Wrong in Colorado

The rollercoaster of polling results in Colorado has been of the more prominent stories of the 2014 election cycle, and it is a story we would expect to see many media outlets revisit once Election Day has finally come and gone. Polling results for various races have been all over the map in the last two months — some more obviously ridiculous than others (we're looking at you, Quinnipiac) — and politicos on both sides of the aisle have been scratching their heads at the mix of numbers. 

One of the more consistent inconsistencies, however, appears to be a result of errors trying to survey Latino Voters. We mentioned this last week as well, but here's more from Buzzfeed News:

In 2010, Sen. Harry Reid was engaged in a bitter battle with Sharron Angle. He was headed for a loss, polls said.

Despite polls showing him down about 3% on average, he won by 5.6%. The surprise was largely attributed to Latino voters being polled incorrectly. Nate Silver wrote about this after hearing from Matt Barreto, of Latino Decisions, a polling firm focused on the Latino vote.

Now with the 2014 midterm election looming, Barreto argues to BuzzFeed News that it’s happening again, this time in Colorado where polls show Republican Rep. Cory Gardner leading Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

“Even if you give other polls the benefit of the doubt and assume the rest of their statewide numbers are correct — if you pull their Latino numbers out and put ours in — instead of Udall being down by 3, he’s up 3 to 4,” Barreto said. [Pols emphasis]

That's a pretty significant swing that is beyond the margin of error in most polls. So how does it happen?

Latino Decisions says that mainstream polls fail in capturing the nuance of the Latino vote because many only poll in English, with small samples of Latinos somewhere in the 40-60 range, whereas they survey 400-600 bilingually. Cell-phone only, Spanish-speaking, lower socio-economic status Latinos are the most Democratic of all Latino voters, they argue, and are the most difficult and costly voters to include in a poll, according to a recent blog post. Polls in English, on the other hand, oversample higher income Latinos who are more likely to lean Republican, according to Barreto.

A recent Latino Decisions/NCLR Action Fund poll found that 66% of Latinos say they will or are likely to vote for Udall, while only 17% said they would definitely or are likely to vote for Gardner. But of those who were interviewed in Spanish, 76% said they will vote for or are likely to vote for Udall.

Interesting food for thought as field operations take over the spotlight.

Fact Check: Gardner opposes Dream Act and blocked immigration reform

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

Rep. Cory Gardner continues to misrepresent his record on immigration, and reporters have failed to call him out on it.

During an Oct. 6 debate, Gardner was asked if he'd vote for the DREAM Act, which would grant a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants who attend college or serve in the U.S. military.

Instead of answering the question, Gardner used the dodge tactic of stating his opinion on what will happen to the DREAM Act.

"Ultimately, I think the Dream Act will be part of the solution of immigration reform," Gardner said. "It has to be. Look, I believe in immigration reform."

If Gardner had answered the question, instead of predicting the future, he'd have said that he's long opposed the Dream Act.

Gardner: "I think if you pass the DREAM Act today, you’re still not fixing the problem,’ Gardner told the Boulder Daily Camera last year. "I want to create a fair system so people who want to be here legally can be here legally.”

Last year, Gardner even opposed a proposed state law, so-called ASSET, to grant in-state tuition for young immigrants in Colorado.

Gardner: "But we can’t start putting in place in-state tuition, whether it’s other things that are being placed by the states, without actually addressing the root problem that will only continue more illegal immigration into this country," Gardner told KNUS' Steve Kelly last year." And so, that’s why we’ve got to have a policy that actually works, and I believe it starts with border security."

On this very day, as I type this blog post, Gardner's website states that the Congressman opposes "giving those people [who are here illegally] benefits that will only encourage more illegal immigration."

(more…)

Survey of Latino Voters Finds Gardner Deeply Underwater

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R) practicing the face that Latino voters make when they hear his name.

Via the Public News Service, a new survey of Colorado Latino voters that every pollster concerned about their sampling of this critical segment of the electorate should take note of:

Latinos now make up 21 percent of Coloradans, and experts forecast this voting bloc could have a significant impact on the November midterm election. 

A survey released on Tuesday by the National Council of La Raza Action Fund and Latino Decisions finds 55 percent of Latino voters support incumbent Senator Mark Udall, and 14 percent support challenger Cory Gardner. The rest said they're undecided. 

Matthew McClellan, executive director of the NCLR Action Fund, says the Latino community appears to be reacting to several years of policy action or on some issues, lack of action. 

"The Latino community has seen a lot of inaction over the last couple years, and they're blaming the Republican party quite a bit more than the Democratic party, and I think that's probably what's hurting Gardner the most," he says.

We haven't seen hard numbers to confirm it yet, but anecdotally we do believe much more attention is being paid to Latino voters in Colorado this year than in prior elections. There is more advertising in Spanish, and more field campaign focus on turning out Latino voters on both sides. Despite well-publicized attempts earlier this year to "reach out" to Latinos by Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call and others, and even meddling in the primary process to help ensure anti-immigrant poster child Tom Tancredo did not win, there's little to suggest in these numbers that it's helped them. There's just no way you can separate the Republican Party's long hostile record with Latinos, or the anti-immigrant icons like Tancredo who are almost exclusively Republican partisans, from the GOP ticket on the ballot today. Certainly not just with idle platitudes like Cory Gardner, in stark contrast with his record.

Bottom line: yesterday, SurveyUSA released two polls in Colorado with slightly different methodology. One of those polls came up with a Latino sample of only six percent–a ridiculously small figure in a state that is 21% Latino. The other actually showed Gardner with a lead among Latino voters, an inexplicable result that threw the entire poll into question. A fascinating interview by the New York Times yesterday of SurveyUSA's Jay Leve in response to questions about their polling in Colorado reveals that pollsters just aren't any good at sampling for Latino voters–and they know it.

I get that criticism; I understand it. And the Hispanic data that you’re looking at in Colorado, that shows a Republican ahead among Hispanics, is also at odds with common sense. So I can’t defend it except that we give people the opportunity to self-identify as Hispanic, and we record it.

We have been accused in the past as having blacks who are not “black enough.” I get that criticism. Our black respondents, instead of being 90-10 Democratic, are sometimes 67-33. Do I think it turns out that way on way on Election Day? No, I think we’re too Republican on black voters, just as we are sometimes too Republican on Hispanic voters. This is not unique to SurveyUSA. [Pols emphasis]

Are there people who specialize in Latino polling who conduct elaborate studies and then in turn prove, to their satisfaction and probably mine, that the Latino population is overwhelmingly Democratic? Yes. Is there something that we can do better? I’m sure that there is. At the moment, though, it is what it is.

That's a very candid admission–and if this survey of Latino voters is right, it's a huge blind spot for anyone trying to understand what's really going to happen in Colorado on Election Day.