Looks like Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) should’ve worked harder to lead on immigration.
Coffman is running in one of this fall’s most competitive House races, in a district that is heavily Latino, while representing a party that has done absolutely nothing for a key community priority — immigration reform. With election day less than two months away, Coffman is stuck in an awkward spot now that he has to scrounge up some Latino votes. Fox News Denver has the story on how the Colorado campaign is going for Coffman and his Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff:
[Coffman is at the Mi Pueblo Latin Market] on a Saturday in late August to work the lunchtime crowd, asking them what issues matter to them — in Spanish.
“Soy congresista,” he says — “I’m a congressman” — to a table of El Salvadoran immigrants eating bowls of steamy soup and handing the diners his business cards.
His Spanish coach hovers over his shoulder, ready to help translate should he fail to come up with the right words.
“It’s a little rough, but it will get better,” Coffman says of his Spanish. “I think it’s very important to be able to speak directly to the Hispanic community in their own language.”
Unfortunately for Coffman, it’s going to take more than a few words in Spanish to win over Latino voters when you represent a party that’s been as hostile to them as the House GOP:
The Hispanic community’s broad frustration with Congress’s failure to take action on comprehensive immigration reform — manifests itself when Coffman asks the people seated at the market’s wooden picnic tables if they have questions or issues that matter to them.
Most of them say the same thing: immigration reform.
Coffman’s responses — that both sides “tiene la culpa”, or, “are to blame”; and that he understands the importance of keeping families together: “mantenar familias juntas” — are indicative of a congressman who would like to find a path through the middle on immigration reform.
But Andrew Romanoff, the Democrat running against Coffman, notes that Coffman voted against the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill that addressed border security and offered immigrants a 13-year path to citizenship.
“If you block comprehensive immigration reform but still say you’re in favor of it, at some point’ you’ve got to ask: what do these words mean to you? In any language!” Romanoff said last week during a tour of Aurora’s Cinema Latino with Congressman Javier Becerra, D-Calif.
Did we mention that Coffman has voted to end DACA and deport DREAMers four times?
Coffman’s record has plenty for Romanoff to pick at, including a vote last year for an amendment sponsored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, to defund the president’s Deferred Action program and re-start the deportation of DREAMers (Coffman has also highlighted Romanoff’s own record on immigration, including his support for special session immigration legislation in 2006).
As Coffman was preparing to leave the market, a young man (possibly a Democratic activist) asked him about that vote.
“That would deport me and a lot of other DREAMers,” the young man told Coffman, who explained that this summer, when the same amendment was voted on again, he voted no.
“I voted against it because I thought we had an opportunity to make [Deferred Action] permanent,” he said.
For the record, it’s completely unclear what Coffman is talking about by making deferred action permanent, since the House this session has taken up no bill whatsoever that would provide any type of relief for the undocumented 11 million. They have done absolutely nothing that at all resembles immigration reform.
And Coffman’s only stated excuse for not being better on immigration? His claim, below, that he’s at least better on the issue than he used to be — i.e. better on the issue now than when he used go around calling the DREAM Act a “nightmare“:
Coffman’s evolution on the immigration issue is the most obvious of several examples of how a more diverse, competitive district has forced him to reassess his own views and, ultimately, move toward the almost nonexistent political middle.
“If you look at the 2012 campaign, I didn’t know any of these issues,” he says. “This is really my first reelection in what is arguably a new district where I have an opportunity to talk to these immigrant communities and learn their issues.
“I think it’s made me a better congressman in making me understand issues I didn’t have in the old district.”
It is just laughable for Coffman to think that he or his party have anything to offer Latino voters.