Lamm defends his viewpoint |

Lamm defends his viewpoint

Concerned about the implications of recent immigration debates, former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm dropped in at an Aspen City Council meeting Monday to say a few words on the matter.

During the council’s informal luncheon session, Lamm, a part-time Aspen resident, attributed his appearance to an impression he gleaned from local press coverage that anyone advocating a stricter immigration policy was being labeled as racist.

When council members dispelled that notion as a few isolated remarks made by individuals, Lamm broadened his focus to the importance of implementing tighter immigration laws nationwide.

“It’s not a question of compassion,” Lamm said. “It’s a question of what kind of country do we want to leave our children.”

Sharply critical of “open-border liberals and cheap-labor conservatives” who are lax about enforcing immigration laws, Lamm proposed four ways to address the issue.

His suggestions were to: toughen border enforcement, cut legal immigration in half, create a more foolproof citizen verification system, and make businesses more responsible when they hire illegal workers.

Localizing the debate to Aspen, Councilman Jim Markalunas attributed “a lot of the problem to too much wealth, too much affluence in Aspen.”

Regarding the issue that sparked Lamm’s visit – whether the city should fund Roaring Fork Legal Services, which aids immigrants – Councilman Tony Hershey stood by the city’s position to continue funding the agency.

“Are we encouraging illegal immigrants to come here? I don’t think so,” Hershey said. “But once they’re in the valley, it would be wrong to just check people with Spanish accents, which is what some people were saying we should do. Because under that logic we should inquire about anyone with a foreign name or everyone with an Australian accent.”

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