Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee did a good job over the weekend of sorting out the past immigration positions of Rep. Mike Coffman and his Democratic challenger, Andrew Romanoff.
Lee noted that Romanoff pushed compromise immigration legislation through the Colorado legislature in 2006, in order to deflect a more extreme immigration measure from making the Colorado ballot and being locked in the state Constitution.
Lee is among the only journalists who've reported on the context of Romanoff's 2006 immigration legislation, which was opposed by some immigrant advocates.
During the summer of 2006, in his first term as state House speaker, Romanoff faced a critical decision: Have a broadly worded initiative appear on the November ballot that would strip state benefits and even some medical services from those in the country illegally -- including children -- or strike a legislative compromise.
Lee reported that Romanoff "chose the latter option and staved off a late effort to revive the ballot initiative," which was supported by Coffman.
Among the proponents of the ballot initiative that didn't make it to voters was Coffman, the state treasurer at the time.
Coffman later headed to Congress to represent the then staunchly conservative 6th Congressional District, touting positions as a hardliner on immigration reform and following in the footsteps of his predecessor and a man he called his "hero" -- Republican Tom Tancredo
Moving forward in time, Lee again correctly reports that Romanoff supports the comprehensive-immigration-reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate, while Coffman backs, in Lee's words, "piecemeal reforms." Lee does a good job of clarifying that Coffman doesn't just stand for vague "reform" but a piecemeal approach, with the pieces glaringly undefined.
Lee should have noted that just over a year ago, Coffman announced his grand support, in a much-read Denver Post op-ed, for "comprehensive immigration reform." This startled the three people paying attention because it ran counter to Coffman's past positions.
But now Coffman's "comprehensive immigration reform" is out the window, and he wants piecemeal legislation. Coffman has said that a "comprehensive approach doesn't have to be a comprehensive bill," but if you've ever had a conversation about immigration among people with differing views on the topic, you understand why that's not true. Comprehensive reform allows for compromises to be folded together, with different pet issues included, so everyone can hold a nostril or two and vote yes, like Senators in their compromise by a 68-32 margin.
Lee, who's leaving The Post Wednesday, probably won't be able to delve into the question of whether piecemeal reform, with only a small piece (citizenship for minors via military service) actually on the table, is more than empty rhetoric, especially with the Senate bill ready to go. But maybe another reporter will pick up the thread.