KUSA – Republican Congressman Mike Coffman says children who entered the United States illegally should be held in detention centers in their home countries, not in America.
Coffman made the comments last Friday in an interview with 9NEWS anchor Kyle Clark.
Two weeks ago, 9NEWS broke the story of the city of Denver's plans to apply for federal money to house about fifty children at a time at a residential treatment center.
Coffman suggested the children be put in detention centers in Central America.
"They are here and we have a responsibility for them," Coffman said. "That responsibility, in my view, could be met by, instead of having detention centers here in the United States, having detention centers back in their home country.
Coffman suggested the US government establish agreements with El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and tell leaders there that "we're going to fund detention centers in your country where these children will be safely housed and cared for until family members can claim them."
"The minute you have the first plane land, then I think you will put a stop to the flood of these children that are coming up at tremendous risk," Coffman said.
The 9NEWS political experts, discussing Coffman's comments on Balance of Power, airing Saturday on 9NEWS, said Coffman must be careful not to appear to take a hard line on immigration.
Coffman's opponent, Democrat Andrew Romanoff, has attempted to paint him as an anti-immigration extremist in a newly redrawn congressional district that is more Hispanic and less Republican than when Coffman won narrowly two years ago.
"At the end of the day, we're talking about kids but there's also the respect for the rule of law," said Republican analyst Ryan Frazier. "I think his tone, his demeanor and what he says could decide his fate."
"This is very tough for Coffman," said Democratic analyst James Mejia. "On one hand, there's what he wants to do. But I don't think people even hear that. I think what they hear is the tone with which he's delivering his message."
"That does not sound like moderation. That does not sound like taking care of kids," Mejia said. "It sounds like he's villanizing kids for what, frankly, their parents have done."
The Romanoff campaign declined to comment on Coffman's idea for detention centers in Central America.
Balance of Power airs this Saturday at 6 p.m. on 9NEWS and again at 9:30pm on Channel 20. This weekend's episode of Balance of Power also includes a discussion of whether Denver's plan to accept children from the border region is a wise idea. Jennifer Piper, an immigration advocate from the American Friends Service Committee says Denver is ideally suited to be their temporary home. City Councilman Charlie Brown says the idea is being pushed without enough discussion or concern over the financial impact.
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