THE BLOG
07/27/2016 04:08 pm ET Updated Jul 26, 2017

Fact Check: Gardner Opposes Comprehensive Immigration Reform

In an editorial this weekend holding out U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner as the model of the way forward for the Republican Party, The Denver Post claimed Gardner "supports comprehensive immigration reform."

In fact, Gardner opposed a 2103 comprehensive immigration reform bill, which died in the Republican-controlled House, after it passed by a bipartisan 68-32 vote in the U.S. Senate.

Gardner said at the time immigration reform has to start with border security, and he called for  "additional personnel on the border," an "e-verify system," and "additional security, a fence, you name it, on the border."

Sounds much like Trump, even though The Post's editorial, titled "How will the GOP rebuild after Trump," aimed to contrast Gardner with Trump.

Since then, Gardner has called for immigration reform, but the issues section of his website doesn't list immigration at all. There's no indication that his position has changed or that he's for comprehensive immigration reform, in any real sense of the term "comprehensive legislation," which involves combining different elements (e.g., border enforcement, path to citizenship, deportations) of a contentious overarching issue into one bill so that no one is completely happy but the legislation gets passed.

To my way of thinking, if you demand undefined border enforcement first, leaving out the other elements of comprehensive immigration reform, like a path to citizenship, you're really not for comprehensive immigration reform. It's not comprehensive.

Asked to comment on this blog post, Denver Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett said via email:

Gardner has called for acting on immigration reform. He stood and clapped when Obama asked in is SOTU in 2014 calling for Congress to get it done. He's for a path to legal status. Yes, he says the border situation has to be secure, and I understand that some use that condition to dodge real reform, but Gardner has for the last two years been more friendly to the issue than others.

I include this piece from Mark Matthew's in 2014 to show what I mean.

I get it that the use of the word "comprehensive" is too much of a buzzword and it isn't specific enough. And were I writing specifically about immigration I would have had to have been more detailed. But in the context of a broader editorial about leadership styles, a 10,000-foot view comparison between Gardner's approach and Cruz/Trump, Gardner is much different. Cruz called for deporting 12 million people in the country illegally, for example

Plunkett is correct that "comprehensive" is a buzzword, and it's one that politicians like to wrap themselves around. Rep. Mike Coffman, who also opposed the bipartisan U.S. Senate bill in 2013, uses the phrhase "comprehensive immigration reform," but his website says it "must first begin with the comprehensive enforcement of our immigration laws."

The Post also claimed Gardner was against the 2013 government shutdown. In fact, 9News' political reporter Brandon Rittiman determined that in 2014, even though Gardner voted to end the shutdown once it started, "Gardner did vote in line with the Republican strategy that led to the government shutdown."