Immigration dominates Allard's visit


A single topic has dominated Sen. Wayne Allard's visits to the Western Slope in recent days.

Whether Allard is in Grand Junction or Rifle, residents want to talk about immigration.

Wednesday's visit to Craig was no different for the senator.

Most of the comments from the crowd of about 50 people Wednesday centered on immigration and what the Loveland Republican is doing about the issue.

"It really is no surprise (that residents want to discuss immigration)," Allard said after the hour-long town meeting at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.

Immigration rallies in Colorado and across the nation have drawn thousands of participants in recent weeks.

Allard opposed immigration legislation in the Senate last week because he said it amounted to amnesty for millions of immigrants in the country illegally.

At Wednesday's town meeting, Allard said he wasn't confident that an immigration bill would pass before Congress adjourns in October.

"I don't know whether we'll ever get an immigration bill," Allard said.

Allard attached two amendments to the immigration bill that failed in the Senate last week.

One of the Senator's amendments would bar immigrants who support terrorism.

Allard attached another am----endment that would require foreign governments to work with local officials to stop the flow of methamphetamine into the country.

"We have a serious problem with methamphetamine," Allard said.

Although meth is easy to make and some is made in the United States, Allard said foreign-made meth accounts for about 80 percent of the meth in the country.

Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta, who attended Wednesday's meeting, said most of the meth in Craig comes from Mexico.

Allard said securing the border is central to slowing problems such as meth abuse.

"If we do the job on the border, we wouldn't have so many problems in the internal country," Allard said.

The audience Wednesday had plenty of ideas about how politicians can stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the country.

Craig resident Rob Sexton, a retired Air Force officer, said that if illegal immigrants didn't have access to government services, they wouldn't come here.

"Cut off the services. They'll go home," Sexton said.

Other audience members said politicians need to crack down on the companies that hire undocumented workers. But Allard said such a crackdown would be difficult.

If employers are blatantly and knowingly hiring undocumented workers, they should be punished, Allard said.

But if an undocumented worker presents forged documents and an employer hires them, the employer shouldn't be punished, he said.

"You can't throw the book at them," Allard said.

Lynne Herring, of Craig, told the senator she attended Wednesday's meeting specifically to talk about stopping illegal immigration.

"I want the border protected," Herring said.

After the meeting, Herring said she was glad the senator came to talk about immigration but that she didn't think he laid out concrete plans for fixing the problem.

Allard also discussed the Endangered Species Act, the war in Iraq and health care.

When Congress returns to session from Easter break April 24, Allard said he expects legislators to spend the first week discussing health care.

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