With just two years of Spanish instruction, Representative Mike Coffman puts many of us to shame after our four years of Spanish in school. His landmark all-Spanish debate in 2014 with Andrew Romanoff was a first in Colorado history, and he certainly seemed dedicated to reaching out to the large Hispanic demographic in the district.
For those who dismissed Rep. Coffman’s Hispanic outreach as survivalist campaign tactics in his ethnically diverse district, the joke is on you. Today, Coffman is just as engaged with his Spanish skills as he is with his constituents. He can be spotted during the day with a Spanish book close at hand and still chats with a tutor during the week. And, no, that tutor is not Andrew Romanoff, who taught English in Spanish-speaking countries.
Coffman’s significant constituent outreach yielded a much better understanding of the complexities of our broken immigration system. He admits he has modified his views, but as our representative system of government is supposed to work, he modified his views based on bona fide feedback from the very people he represents. As he told Fox News Latino:
“We need a system where people can go back and forth, bring them out of the shadows, let them work here. We need to get something done on immigration reform, something that is aligned with our economic needs, and we need to be compassionate about keeping families together. It’s important going into 2016.”
There are few politicians who would so fully embrace a major shift in their constituencies as Rep. Coffman did when his district changed dramatically. In fact, we’re still waiting for Reps. Perlmutter and Degette to show us their Spanish language skills as they, too, have large Spanish-language constituencies. But, maybe that’s why Coffman is considered one of the hardest working Representatives in office.