Mike Coffman cheers news of possible DACA compromise between Trump, Democrats

Author: Ernest Luning - September 14, 2017 - Updated: September 15, 2017

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, takes part in a Spanish language debate on Oct. 4, 2016, at Entravision television studios in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, takes part in a Spanish language debate on Oct. 4, 2016, at Entravision television studios in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, applauded President Trump Thursday for working with congressional Democrats toward a compromise to preserve protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants living illegally in America.

“The president deserves credit for his leadership in promoting a compromise that enhances border security while extending protections for DACA participants,” Coffman said in a statement, referring to reports about a private dinner Wednesday night between Trump and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the top Democrats on Capitol Hill.

The administration announced last week that it planned to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, next spring. Trump said he was giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution for the young immigrants known as Dreamers, brought to the United States illegally while they were children.

Coffman is a sponsor or co-sponsor of several House bills that would enable Dreamers to attain legal status, including the DREAM Act, which creates multiple avenues to green cards and, eventually, citizenship.

Trump said Thursday no deal had been reached with the Democrats, however, despite a statement from Pelosi and Schumer announcing a broad agreement.

“We’re working on a plan subject to getting massive border controls. We’re working on a plan for DACA. People want to see that happen,” Trump said, adding, “‘I think we’re fairly close but we have to get massive border security.”

Schumer insisted that both sides were in agreement and there was no dispute.

“If you listen to the president’s comments this morning … it is clear that what Leader Pelosi and I put out last night was exactly accurate,” he said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. “We have reached an understanding on this issue. We have to work out details, and we can work together on a border security package with the White House and get DACA on the floor quickly.”

Other Republican lawmakers and conservative media outlets rained down criticism on Trump after news of a possible immigration compromise broke late Wednesday.

Breitbart, run by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, slammed the reported deal and was already labeling Trump “Amnesty Don.”

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, one of the House’s leading immigration hard-liners, wrote on Twitter that if the reports were true, “Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”

Hours after the Trump administration declared it was moving to rescind DACA, Coffman initiated what’s known as a discharge petition to force the House to consider the BRIDGE Act, a bill that would put the DACA program into law for three years. Two days later, however, Coffman put a hold on gathering signatures — 218, or a majority of House members, would be required to move the bill to the floor — after he said he received assurances from House Speaker Paul Ryan that lawmakers would consider adopting permanent protection for DACA recipients in conjunction with funding for border security.

Democrats, including three candidates running in a primary for Coffman’s suburban swing seat, accused the Republican of abandoning his pledge to stand up for immigrants, but a Coffman spokesman said the five-term incumbent’s critics were splitting hairs over “evolving procedural tactics” and insisted that Coffman was “focused on protecting Dreamers — period.”

The Coffman spokesman told Colorado Politics on Saturday that the congressman would “absolutely” sign onto a discharge petition for any of the Dreamer-related bills he’d sponsored or co-sponsored, including the DREAM Act or BRIDGE Act, if it looked like the House GOP wasn’t following through.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.