Salazar asks Coffman to demand vote on immigration

The Colorado Statesman

Organizing for Action, a political remnant from the Obama presidential campaign held yet another immigration reform rally at the Aurora City Hall this week, featuring former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. About 50 demonstrators assembled on a bright, sunny morning to ask Congressman Mike Coffman to personally demand that Speaker John Boehner bring a comprehensive reform bill to the House floor for a vote before the end of the year. The theme was clear: Coffman should knock on the Speaker’s door and ask that the Senate Bill adopted earlier this year be scheduled for a vote in 2013. Although Andrew Romanoff wasn’t in attendance, little doubt was left that this rally was organized for the purpose of embarrassing the incumbent Republican Congressman into expressing his public support for immediate Congressional action. Romanoff’s name was frequently invoked as someone who was ready to support the legislation.

Erin Vargas, International Baccalaureate scholar at George Washington High School, speaks as former U.S. Senator Ken Salazar listens.

Justin Steele, Colorado’s OFA state coordinator, warmed the crowd with claims that the Senate bill would pass if a vote were permitted. He introduced Jesus Altamirano of the National Council of La Raza who bragged about the 6,000 new voters his organization registered last year. He then introduced Erin Vargas, an “immigration dreamer” who arrived in the United States at the age of 6 and who is now an exceptional student enrolled the International Baccalaureate program at George Washington High School in Denver. She proved a riveting speaker — describing her internment in an INS holding cell following her family’s first failed attempt to enter the country. They succeeded when coyotes smuggled the children in separate from their parents — surely a frightening experience. Today she looks forward to attending college and living out her adult life in the only country she truly remembers. It would be hard to argue that she represents anything less than an asset to Colorado’s future.

Immigration demonstrators rally outside the Aurora City Hall on Nov. 18. Former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar addressed the group.
Photos by Miller Hudson/The Colorado Statesman

Ken Salazar closed the event with an impassioned recitation of demands that his “friend” Mike Coffman walk down the hall and knock on the Speaker’s door with his fellow Republicans who have expressed their support for a resolution of the immigration conundrum. Even as theater, this event seemed to falter. At least half those in attendance traveled into the 6th Congressional District from elsewhere. None of the TV stations bothered to cover still one more immigration demonstration. No one in attendance genuinely believed Coffman would experience an epiphany on the matter. Perhaps next year, the issue can be forced again. Coffman, who has been more reasonable on immigration than many of his colleagues in recent months will continue to try and navigate a middle course that satisfies no one and likely irritates everyone. Similar demonstrations will repeat right up to Election Day 2014. This seems to be what passes for political debate in the 21st century.