Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

‘Bush had it right’ Gov. Ritter tells DU immigration panel

Colorado’s Democratic governor endorsed a Republican president’s proposed guest worker policy Jan. 29 before a University of Denver panel studying immigration.

“George Bush had it right,” said Gov. Bill Ritter. “It’s time we bring these immigrants out of the shadows and recognize their contribution to the economy.”

Ritter endorsed the concept of a secure national identification card, proposed legislation granting in-state tuition to the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens and increased border security.

The governor also called for greater cooperation between the federal government and the states on the enforcement of illegal immigration, particularly on the prosecution, incarceration and deportation of those who commit crimes.

Illegal aliens have an economic impact on Colorado in terms of criminal justice, education and health care, Ritter said, but are not the main drivers of cost increases in those areas. He recommended a “reasonable” approach to dealing with the economic and social costs and benefits of illegal immigration.

“It is absolutely an issue that we as a nation must consider,” Ritter said. “There is a great need for this panel.”

This year’s Immigration panel is part of DU’s Strategic Issues Program (SIP), which was created to examine critical state issues and make policy recommendations. The nonpartisan panels, comprised of accomplished citizens from around the state and across the political spectrum, are appointed by Chancellor Robert Coombe and facilitated by SIP Director Jim Griesemer. Previous panels have studied the state’s economy, water supply and constitution.

This year’s panel will hear from more than 30 local and national immigration experts through May, deliberate over the summer and issue a report in early December.

Following the governor on Jan. 29, panel members also heard from Denver Chamber of Commerce President Joe Blake and state Agriculture Commissioner John Stulp. Blake pointed out the difficulty Colorado businesses have had in finding qualified workers for the state’s tourism, construction and farming industries. Stulp talked about the need for seasonal farm labor and described a pilot program his department is implementing to bring in farm workers from other countries.

Comments are closed.