Fox 31 Denver's Eli Stokols reported yesterday that Rep. Mike Coffman has launched a web ad attacking his Democratic opponent, Andrew Romanoff, for supporting tough immigration legislation in 2006.
But Stokols omitted the fact that Romanoff's compromise legislation came in response to a hard-line immigration ballot initiative that was endorsed by Coffman. The Coffman-backed initiative, called Defend Colorado Now, would have stopped Colorado from providing services to all undocumented immigrants, even children. One of the 2006 Romanoff-backed laws, for example (HB-1023), specifically allowed children 18-years or younger to receive state services, like vaccinations.
Stokols piece fails to note the transparent hypocrisy of Coffman attacking Romanoff for passing the laws, even though Coffman favored a more extreme anti-immigrant ballot initiative, which triggered the need for the compromise laws pushed by Romanoff. And Coffman's measure would have been enshrined in the state Constitution, if it passed, which seemed likely at the time.
Stokols should have included a comment (or a no comment) by Coffman addressing his 2006 support of the extreme Defend Colorado Now initiative.
Coffman's web ad spotlights a 2010 quote from Democratic State Sen. Jesse Ulibarri, who's now backing Romanoff, criticizing Romanoff for the laws passed during the 2006 special session. In his piece yesterday, Stokols reports Ulibarri's current thinking on the 2006 special session:
Ulibarri also told FOX31 Denver that he now has a better understanding, thanks in part to being a state lawmaker himself, of Romanoff's choice back in 2006 than he did when he penned the 2010 Op-Ed, noting that the legislation passed was an effort to avoid a ballot measure that would have made it a felony for undocumented immigrants to have access to public services, including emergency room care, in the event of a health emergency.
"As Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives at the time, Andrew was faced with the choice of doing nothing and allowing undocumented children and many Coloradans to be denied emergency room care or finding an option to prevent an incredibly heinous law from being enshrined in our Constitution," Ulibarri said.
"Speaker Romanoff fought to keep this measure off of the ballot by brokering a compromise during the special legislative session. This compromise made Colorado law consistent with federal law that denied certain public services to undocumented immigrants with exceptions for children, public health and safety. And while I don't agree with the bills that were passed, I understand why the deal was made."
That's good context on Coffman's ad. Just as important would have been an explanation from Coffman on why he supported the proposed constitutional amendment that Romanoff worked with Republican Gov. Bill Owens and others to stop.