Brendan Greene: Alienating immigrants would damage mountain economy |

Brendan Greene: Alienating immigrants would damage mountain economy

I would like to offer some balancing arguments to Mr. Morgan’s column on the Secure Communities program signed by former Governor Ritter. The primary mandate of Secure Communities is to prioritize the removal of dangerous “Level 1” criminal aliens from the United States. Evidence shows that the program is veering away from its mandate by sweeping up largely non-criminal immigrants who pose no threat to our society.

The proof is in the numbers. At an April 2009 hearing, David Venturella, executive director of Secure Communities, testified that from October 2008 through February 2009 only 862 of the 12,000 people who were identified through the program were charged or convicted of Level 1 offenses.

By blending local and federal enforcement, the Secure Communities program has the potential to drive a wedge between immigrant communities and local law enforcement and we become less safe as trust built through community policing is eroded.

With mountain resorts depending upon a steady clientele of tourists from Latin America, and much of its labor force Latino, any move towards Arizona style legislation could have a devastating effect on fragile mountain town economies.

By enacting programs which alienate rather than embrace immigrants, we are pushing away not only contributing residents of our mountain communities, but also the tourists who will take their business elsewhere.

It is time that we open a constructive and civil dialogue about the true impact that Arizona-style legislation will have on our communities and the tourism industry on which we thrive.

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