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Rep. Cory Gardner Claims to Support Immigration Reform, When in Reality, He’s Been Standing in the Way

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To listen to Paul Ryan and John Boehner, you would think that House Republicans are gearing up to pass immigration reform next year — there are just pesky Democratic obstructionists in the way. Please.  That’s the line that Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), the Republican challenger for Mark Udall’s Senate seat in Colorado, is taking as well. He’s becoming a master of re-writing history.

Gardner is running in a state where the electorate is 13% Latino, which is probably why his current tagline is — necessarily — “a different kind of Republican.”  Two days ago he gave this interview to KDVR Denver, where he talked about immigration reform, claimed his longtime support of it, and blamed Democrats for not taking action on the issue.  As Gardner said:

We do need immigration reform, that’s why I’ve supported immigration reform and testified before the House Judiciary Committee on immigration reform…when the House conference met, I spoke in favor of reform…but let’s just step back and see why we’re in this mess.  We’re in this mess because Mark Udall and Barack Obama have failed to lead…

I look forward to working with people who are interested in solutions instead of just politics…I think there are a lot of Republicans who support immigration reform, and I look forward to working with them to find a solution in the next several months…The House has put forward 5 immigration bills that has passed out of the House Judiciary Committee.  We can do more, there’s other steps that need to be taken and I look forward to taking them.

There are a few things wrong with Gardner’s claims:

  1. Despite his lofty words, Gardner has actively opposed immigration reform.  The House GOP conference he’s referring to is the one from January of this year, when Republicans met to discuss the newly released GOP principles on immigration.  Gardner may have spoken “in favor of reform,” much like he does here, but he voted against the principles.  The GOP principles were a weak gesture that did not include a path to citizenship for most immigrants, did not lead to legislation, and was nearly dead on arrival; they were, pathetically, the closest the House GOP has come this year to moving forward on immigration reform and Cory Gardner opposed them.
  2. In the House Judiciary Committee hearing that Gardner references, from 2013, he spoke about the need for “border security first,” which is Republican-speak for “legalization/citizenship never.”
  3. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) voted for the Senate immigration bill, and President Obama has been cajoling for House Republicans to do the same.  It’s House Republicans who’ve refused to do their part to work toward a solution, and Gardner has been as bad as any.  America’s Voice ran ads against him in the Denver Post reminding voters that Gardner has done nothing in the House to further immigration reform.  He’s done even less than his Colorado colleague Mike Coffman, who at least supports a path to citizenship.
  4. Coffman and Gardner have now both claimed that the House has acted on immigration reform bills.  But nothing the House has done could at all be considered real immigration reform.  At the committee level, they passed the SAFE Act, which would nationalize the racial profiling tactics that law enforcement bullies like Sheriff Joe Arpaio have been using in Arizona.  Meanwhile, full House votes have included at least four votes to deport DREAMers, one vote to deny the children of immigrant parents access to the child tax credit, and one vote to hasten the deportation of children who have recently crossed the border.  These are not exactly indications that Republicans are ready to tackle the real question of immigration reform.

Republicans are clearly in all-out spin mode.  GOPers have spent this entire Congressional session citing one excuse after another — President Obama, the Democrats, fiscal issues, the legislative calendar, immigration reform advocates themselves, the election — for why they can’t pass immigration legislation.  Advocates even gave them a deadline by which Republicans needed to show some good-faith intent to take action, which they didn’t.  Now the GOP is pretending that a window for passing legislation is right around the corner, when it’s not.  Republicans — House Republicans like Cory Gardner in particular — havenever demonstrated any real intention to pass reform, and haven’t bothered to lift a finger to further legislation.  Gardner is trying to claim that he will be “a different kind of Republican” if elected to the Senate, but when it comes to his record on immigration, he is exactly the same as the Steve Kings, Bachmanns, Ryans, and Boehners of the House — all of whom have furthered anti-immigrant legislation, while doing nothing for real immigration reform.