Colorado’s Morning News, Mike Coffman, June 20, 2018

Colorado’s Morning News, Mike Coffman, June 20, 2018

Station:    KOA, 850 am

Show:       Colorado’s Morning News

Guests:    Coffman, Mike


Date:        June 20, 2018

Topics:     Pro

HOST MARTY LENTZ:  [00:00:00] President Trump and House Republicans met yesterday to discuss illegal immigration and families, many of whom are separated by border patrol after they crossed into the United States. And Congressman Mike Coffman [is] joining us live to discuss he was a part of that meeting. Good morning, Congressman.


LENTZ:  [00:00:15] So is that meeting positive — anything get done. Anything move forward? How did you feel about it?

COFFMAN:  [00:00:20] Well, I think it was positive. The president, no doubt, reaffirmed that he wanted to maintain a zero tolerance for illegal immigration at the border, but acknowledged that we need to keep these families together in the process. But [he] specifically stated that he needs– he feels he’s following the law right now. He has to separate the families. And wants statutory authority — wants the Congress to pass legislation — that would allow these families to stay together through the process.

HOST APRIL ZESBAUGH:  [00:00:49] Was this meeting last night a two way discussion with the president? And did any of the Congress members challenge him on, specifically, the family separation policy?

COFFMAN:  [00:00:59] No, I think — well, first of all, there wasn’t — it was a one way conversation. But the president — but the fact that the president acknowledged that this was a problem, the fact that the president stated that he did not want this, you know, the country to have this visual of separating families. So, I think that there wasn’t really room to challenge the president on that point because he acknowledged it. I think where there was probably some contention among the members was his overall view about immigration reform, and that there were two different proposals out there but the proposal clearly that he supported in this meeting would also give legal status and an earned path to citizenship for these young people on the DACA program — those young people that were taken to the United States illegally as children. I think there were members that were not supportive of that.

LENTZ:  [00:01:59] Respectfully, Congressman, though, are you and people in your party — are you afraid to push back on the president? Because that’s the impression I think some people are getting, that even if you feel you’re right about something you’re not willing to take him head on and maybe tell him that he’s wrong in his approach.

COFFMAN:  [00:02:11] I don’t know what we push back on on this, because he’s acknowledging that the approach is wrong.

LENTZ:  [00:02:17] Maybe it’s the — and I apologize — maybe it’s the overarching feeling that he gets with this, that there’s not a lot of maybe compassion — words, but maybe not in actions?

COFFMAN:  [00:02:26] Oh, I think — well, I certainly think that the tone obviously needs to change. But the fact that the president — I mean, there was nothing to challenge him on from my standpoint when he acknowledged the fact that this –it is wrong to separate children from families and that we’ve got to — he needs a change. He needs statutory authority. He needs Congress to pass language to allow him to change this process. He feels that under existing law he does not have the flexibility. That was the argument that the president made. I think where we need the president right now — we need the president to come out very publicly for immigration reform that address[es] the four pillars — in addition to this issue — that he had mentioned earlier. Certainly, we’ll do the border security part. We can tighten up some of the loopholes that people are using at the borders with unaccompanied children and political asylum. We can, you know, make it more of a merit based system versus a familial based system. We can do those things that the president wants and have — and deal with these young people that were taken here illegally as children. But the president needs to be more visible about this. The president needs to be more visible to the American people–.

ZESBAUGH:  [00:03:47] Yeah.

COFFMAN:  [00:03:47] –that separating these families — the children from the parents — is unacceptable, to I think — to help move, push the Congress in the right direction.

ZESBAUGH: [00:03:58] Yeah. As we understand it, he could end this right now with a signature on a piece of paper, an executive order, or a phone call to the southern border. So, it’s frustrating.

COFFMAN:  [00:04:07] Well, he says he can’t. Now, he says — he said last night that he cannot. I guess you could go to the theory of prosecutorial discretion, but then that would be to an entire class and just say[ing], “We won’t prosecute you for the misdemeanor, under the U.S. Code, for crossing into the United States illegally.” But I’d just as soon have him do that, quite frankly, right now and just put those families back on the other side of the border. But they think that — this administration thinks — that by following the law, by prosecuting with the misdemeanor for a first time offense, is a deterrent for future crossings. I’m not sure that that’s the case, right now.

ZESBAUGH:  [00:04:50] Yeah, or finding a way to hold those families together. We’ve got to go, at that. Congressman, thanks for the discussion. We appreciate it.

COFFMAN:  [00:04:55] Hey, thank you. I appreciate it.