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Latino and Immigrant Leaders Respond to Gardner/Coffman Votes on DACA

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Last Minute Election-Year “Conversion” Won’t Make Up for Years of Anti-Immigrant Voting 

Where to begin? The political circus that was last week’s House GOP vote on its border bill and DREAMer deportation amendment was as dysfunctional as it was absurd. Yes, Republicans voted once again to deport DREAMers back to countries they hardly know and at the same time voted to send Central American kids seeking refuge back to the gang violence they fled. It’s despicable. And the party could pay the price for this vote for years.

But of the 11 GOPers who voted “no” on the DACA amendment, two of them were Colorado’s Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Brighton) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Have they miraculously seen the light? Well, let’s look at their recent records:

  • Both have voted no fewer than four times to end DACA in the last year, with the latest vote being only three months ago.
  • Both voted “yes” on the rule, which allowed the anti-DACA vote to come to the floor so that all their fellow GOPers could vote to eliminate the program, even as they voted “no.”
  • At the same time they voted to spare DACA, Coffman and Gardner voted down two attempts by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) and Democrats to advance HR 15, a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill that would help millions of families come out of the shadows.
  • Coffman, just last week, endorsed detaining refugee children back in the countries they’re trying desperately to escape.

What Latino voters are looking for now, and what they’ve always been looking for, are leaders who will take action on immigration reform. The idea that after 4 votes to deport DREAMers in the last year, that Coffman and Gardner have suddenly been converted three months before the election is insulting to a community that has been paying close attention to this debate for years. There’s a reason why all the Republicans in the Colorado delegation received a 0 – 9% rating in last week’s national immigration score card.

“Latino voters in Colorado have been a deciding factor in statewide races in 2010 and 2012 and, trust me, we can tell the difference between politicians who truly support immigrants and those who say the right thing when election time comes around,” said State Representative Crisanta Duran. “Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman have had more than a year to push for real immigration reform, but they’ve done the opposite, blocking the best chance in decades to help millions of families. Now, they take one vote that finally acknowledges our young people shouldn’t be deported and they want a gold star? It’s going to take a lot more than that.”

“I’ve known Rep. Gardner for years now and have had dozens of meetings with him where I always pressed him to support the DREAM Act and broad immigration reform. Not only has he done nothing, he couldn’t even bring himself to support the principles his own party released in January,” Said Victor Galván, DREAMer and West Slope Organizer for CIRC Action Fund. “I’m glad he’s recently decided I no longer deserve to be deported, but something tells me it’s not for the right reasons. If Rep. Gardner has really had a revelation in the last few days, I look forward to seeing his immediate action to pass immigration reform so that my mom and the rest of my family can live without fear of deportation. If he’s trying to cover up his anti-immigrant record of the last several years with a last-minute “show” vote, he won’t be winning any votes in our community.”

Julie Gonzalez, board member of the Colorado Latino Forum, said, “Over twelve thousand Colorado DREAMers have now received deferred action, and it’s time that Reps. Gardner and Coffman stop thinking they can play shell games — maybe we’ll deport you, maybe we won’t — with their lives.  Latino voters represent the electoral margin of victory in Colorado, and we are sick and tired of symbolic votes that make good summer recess talking points but make no difference in the long run.  Come November, our community will remember that Reps. Gardner and Coffman chose to play politics with young people’s lives instead of pushing for meaningful comprehensive immigration reform.”

“Latino voters know exactly who is responsible for blocking immigration reform, “ said Carla Castedo, Colorado State Director for Mi Familia Vota. “Mike Coffman’s one political show vote on DACA won’t change his long anti-immigrant voting record.”