Denver Representative Wants to Limit Rights of Immigrants, Deny Citizenship to Children

The Denver Post has dabbled with putting the interviews they have with candidates seeking endorsement online where they'd be a valuable public resource.

Moving its nose slowly in the right direction, The Post's editorial-page staff produced an online video-interview, called the Roundup, which proved its worth this week with an illuminating interview with Rep. Mike Coffman.

Yesterday's program broke news when Coffman affirmed his opposition to the longstanding U.S. law granting citizenship to people born on American soil, even if their parents are not citizens. This is commonly referred to the policy of birthright citizenship. 

Coffman: I mean, the current law is, and the United States is separate from other countries, is that if you are born in the United States, you are, in fact, a citizen of the United States. You know, I think we should probably be, adopt the policies of other countries, that you are a citizen of your parents. But the fact is, that we have children who were born under current U.S. law. And therein lies the challenge that I have, particularly in meeting families up in what is a very new district. And that –

Denver Post Editorial Writer Tim Hoover: You’d see that changed, right? Is that what you’re saying?

Coffman: Sure. I mean, I think we ought to look at that. But , the fact is, what we have to understand, the fact is, we don’t revoke citizenship once it’s given. [BigMedia emphasis]

During his interview with Hoover, Coffman - who's considered one of the most endangered Congressman in the country - for the first time offered a vague explanation of how his immigration position is different from the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate. Coffman said:

Where I differ from what the Senate did is, to go beyond that [temporary] legal status, you really do have a trigger. And you really do have to demonstrate that we’ve secured our border. And you really do have to demonstrate that we have mechanisms in place and the will to enforce all of our laws. And that’s a real concern of mine…”

Coffman also said he wants tougher English-language standards and other qualifications for citizenship:

I think we really ought to raise the standards for citizenship across the board. I think citizenship really is sacred. I think between myself and my late father, we have 42 years of military experience and four wars. And I think we understand the value of American citizenship. And so, I think that when we say that somebody ought to know English to become a United States citizen, I think we really ought to mean that they ought to know English and we should raise bar on that. When we say that somebody ought to understand the civic culture of our country, we really mean they ought to understand that to include a firm knowledge of the Constitution of the United States. I think we need to raise the bar on citizenship , period.

Coffman also offered a new option for Dreamers to attain citizenship, saying he's drafting a bill to allow young people who entered the U.S. illegally "to achieve citizenship through military service and through higher education." Previously, Coffman only supported allowing so-called Dreamers to achieve citizenship through military service.

Many questions from The Post's interview with Coffman have yet to be addressed:

  • Will he be introducing a bill to stop birthright citizenship?
  • What specifically are his proposed triggers for citizenship? What does sufficient immigration enforcement look like? How else does his immigration position differ from what's in the Senate bill?
  • Does Coffman support a path to citizenship for adults? (After speaking with Coffman, The Post's Hoover doesn't think so, because he wrote that Coffman "favors legal residency, but not citizenship, for adult illegal immigrants.")
  • What does Coffman think of the accusation that he's changing his positions on immigration and other issues simply to get re-elected in a more moderate new district?
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