Crowd peppers Allard over immigration
AVON – Wayne Allard came to Avon to talk about a bill to help clear beetle-killed timber. He ended up talking mostly about immigration.At a “town hall” meeting Monday in the Avon Public Library, Allard, a Loveland Republican and the state’s senior senator, brought copies of a bill he recently introduced that would provide money to help fight bark beetle infestations, now estimated to have killed 7.5 million trees in Colorado. The bill would also ease make it easier for the U.S. Forest Service to work with local governments and private companies to clear beetle-killed timber.But immigration reform drew most of the questions Allard fielded from a small mid-day crowd. Many of those questions came from local resident Eric Goldman, who asked Allard about the prospect of creating some sort of guest worker program. Allard said he’s firmly among the legislators who oppose “amnesty” for illegal immigrants already in the United States. Any breaks for those people would basically move them ahead in the line of people trying to enter the country legally.”It’s a matter of fairness,” Allard said.
While Allard supports plans that require illegal immigrants to leave the country, then come back in with a visa, he added that immigration reform must not harm the nation’s economy.Goldman, pressing the issue, asked Allard what reforms are needed to fix a system many believe is broken.”Our first step needs to be to identify illegals,” Allard said. “I don’t think anybody knows how many are here.” Learning who’s in the country illegally will require “incentives,” he said. Asked how employers could be held accountable for hiring illegal immigrants, Allard said enforcement should concentrate on those “blatantly” breaking the law.”With the technology today, it’s hard to tell a legitimate birth certificate from a forgery,” he said.While Allard said he favors stronger enforcement along the country’s borders, he said he doesn’t favor a fence along the length of the border with Mexico.”In places like San Diego, that might work,” he said, adding that electronic and aerial surveillance would probably be sufficient in many places.Allard also said that Mexico needs to be “encouraged to provide opportunity to people there.”After the meeting, Goldman said he believes Allard has missed some fundamental points about immigration.”He doesn’t understand the difference between immigrant and non-immigrant labor,” Goldman said. “Then there are people who enter legally and overstay their visas.”We need a functional immigration policy.” Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or email@example.com. Vail, Colorado