DENVER — Colorado's next Senator, Rep. Cory Gardner, voted Thursday with most House Republicans to repeal President Obama's order allowing more than 4 million immigrants in the country illegally to stay, triggering accusations that his pledge to help immigrant communities during his campaign this year was hollow.
Gardner's fellow Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, who has also tacked to the center on immigration, was one of only seven House Republicans to vote to uphold Obama's order from last month. The vote was purely symbolic -- the measure will die in the senate, which remains under Democratic control until January -- but represents the first test of where Republicans stand on immigration after the election.
Colorado's two other Republican Congressmen — Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton — voted to repeal Obama's order. The state's three Democratic congressional representatives voted to uphold it. Lamborn represents House District 5, which includes El Paso County and Colorado Springs.
Obama took his action because House Republicans refused to vote on a bipartisan immigration bill that the Senate passed last year that would provide eventual citizenship for many of the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally. Shortly after his vote to overturn the action, Gardner released a statement calling for a broader immigration overhaul and emphasizing immigrants' common humanity.
"Without presenting an alternative plan, today's vote is not a solution," Gardner said. "We owe it to generations past and generations to come to find a solution to our broken immigration system."
But activists were furious. "It appears that Cory Gardner's gentle, moderate, compromising tone on the campaign trail was just a trick to win votes," said Victor Galvan, a Gardner constituent and organizer with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. "Today Congressman Gardner showed his true extreme colors by blocking a vote on common sense bipartisan reform, and instead voting to deport students and parents at the expense of families and the Colorado economy."
Gardner defeated Democratic Sen Mark Udall in last month's election. With Hispanics comprising 14 percent of Colorado's voters, Gardner adopted a notably softer line on immigration than many other Colorado Republicans have. Udall, a supporter of the Senate bill, accused the Republican challenger of being insincere on immigration.