Few states have been hammered harder by illegal immigration than Colorado. Over the last decade, Colorado's Hispanic population has more than doubled. And that doubling made Colorado the third fastest growing state in the nation—a 30% population increase in the last ten years. Colorado's non-English speaking residents have tripled since 1990.
So it isn't surprising that tensions run high when it comes to dealing with illegal immigration issues. In the last two years alone, Colorado has figured in several high visibility and acrimonious feuds about how to slow down the illegal alien runaway train.
Most public among those arguments were:
But all of the recent controversies pale in comparison to an incident in Denver last week that pitted First Data Corporation, a New York Stock Exchange giant with $8 billion in 2003 revenues, and its CEO, Charles T. Fote, against local activists Bill Herron of Defend Colorado Now and Fred Elbel, and Mike McGarry of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform (www.cairco.org)
First Data, headquartered in Denver, has been hosting a series of seminars around the country titled "Immigration: What Reform Will Bring to Our Nation."
Needless to say, First Data defines "reform" to mean open borders.
Fote's real concern however is not humanitarian. His eye is firmly on those astronomical profits generated by the $30 billion in remittances sent home by illegal aliens via Western Union wires. Western Union is an affiliate of First Data.
Coincidentally, Fote announced the creation of a $10 million First Data Corp. "empowerment fund" supposedly to help alien communities. [VDARE.COM note: First Data also predictably opposes Tom Tancredo's plan to tax remittances.]
But don't be fooled. Fote wants more illegal aliens entering the US to ensure that his pockets will be lined well into the future. (Fote's total cash compensation in 2003 according to Forbes is $4.8 million.)
When Herron, Elbel, et al asked if they could participate in the panel discussion "moderated" by former Congressman Esteban Torres, they were firmly rejected.
Only immigration extremists like University of California at Los Angeles Professor Raul Hinojosa were allowed.
For a detailed analysis of the ugly events that transpired—including an assault by a Hispanic activist on a bystander and the suggestion from the crowd that McGarry "Go back to Ireland"—I urge you to read Elbel's account in its entirety. (And send your comments regarding the First Data agenda to Danielle Pereia, Director of Communication [email] or David Banks, Investor Relations. [email])
Clearly, Colorado is at the crossroads. If the state remains as polarized as it is, Colorado will end up as the Rocky Mountain's version of California.
According to Defend Colorado Now's Herron, himself a California escapee, the organization will go ahead with its once-delayed ballot initiative to restrict non-federally mandated services to legal residents.
"The language was approved by the Colorado State Supreme Court and we will be ready to go no later than 2006—possibly sooner," said Herron.
As we learned last week when we reported on Kansas, immigration reformers cannot count on elected officials to do their jobs.
They must take matters into their own hands.
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.