Coffman looks to distance himself from illegal immigration hawk King

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, inside his Washington, DC office.

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, inside his Washington, DC office.

DENVER — Congressman Mike Coffman called out a fellow Republican for opposing his proposal to allow undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship by serving in the military on Thursday.

Coffman, R-Aurora, called out Congressman Steve King, R-Iowa, a noted illegal immigration firebrand who Democrats have tried to sought to portray as a Coffman ally in an appeal to Hispanic voters.

“With all due respect, Steve King is dead wrong on the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act,” Coffman said in a statement, responding to King’s contention that his bill amounts to “amnesty.”

“I think it’s just a bizarre thing to do, to reward people for breaking our laws. That’s what amnesty is,” said King.

“Children who were brought into this country illegally through no fault of their own, and are willing to stand up and serve in the military, deserve the chance to earn citizenship,” Coffman said.

“As a Marine combat veteran, I believe there is no higher expression of citizenship than serving our nation in uniform,” Coffman continued. This is a common sense reform that will strengthen our country and I call on Republicans to stand with Rep. Denham and me in supporting it.”

Coffman, who faces a tough challenge from Democrat Andrew Romanoff in a re-drawn 6th Congressional District that now includes Aurora, supported a King proposal last year that would have ended deferred action, President Obama’s executive order sparing young people in the country illegally from immediate deportation.

The press release Thursday slamming King, issued by Coffman’s congressional office and quickly highlighted by his campaign, is a clear effort to distance himself from perhaps the most fervent opponent of comprehensive immigration reform in Washington.

Last year, King drew attention for saying that most undocumented immigrants don’t turn out to be valedictorians but have “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”