By Ryan Parker
The Denver Post
CO Sen. Michael Bennet, CO Attorney General John Suthers, former Gov. Bill Ritter, Linda Chavez, The Denver Post 2/18/14
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and other leaders joined in a sold-out panel discussion Tuesday night to address terrorism in the context of immigration reform and border security.
Former Gov. Bill Ritter moderated the event at the Denver Art Museum, which was hosted by the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab, or CELL, and sponsored in part by The Denver Post.
Panelists included Linda Chavez, chairman for the Center for Equal Opportunity, state Attorney General John Suthers and Consul General of Canada Marcy Grossman.
The tone of the panel was friendly, and all the participants agreed that the system is broken.
A system that allows those who want to be here to work legally and live peacefully will have a significant negative impact on those would come here to harm Americans and break laws, they agreed.
They said a majority of Americans want a viable system to be put in place.
Bennet said immigration has always been an important component of public policy, and he has seen firsthand what the impact of a broken system has on the country.
“There is not a part of our economy that is not affected by a broken immigration system,” he said.
Chavez said her main focus is on stopping those who would harm Americans and on halting the smuggling of drugs over the border. She said the best way to fix the immigration system is to create a legal, viable option for those who want to come to the United States.
“We need a way to bring willing workers to the United States,” Chavez said.
Suthers said one way in which the immigration system is broken is its lack of visas for those who come to America, specifically Colorado, for seasonal work and who mean no harm and pose no threat.
“If we had a sufficient process of documenting, it would be a heck of a lot easier to filter out those who aren’t supposed to be here,” he said.
In addition, Suthers said the current system exacerbates human trafficking in the U.S. because victims are scared to come forward or to testify because of their immigration status.
Grossman said a vital part of securing the boarders is identifying threats early.
“Terrorism is homegrown,” she said.
The “lone wolf” terrorist is the most difficult to find but the one who can do the most damage, so knowing of any activities immediately is absolutely necessary, she said.
CELL is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that researches and presents information on preventing the threat of terrorism.