Parker woman's guest-worker plan gets aired in Washington, D.C.

Local News
Parker woman's guest-worker plan gets aired in Washington, D.C.
01/14/2013January 15, 2013 12:58 AM GMT
By Nancy Lofholm
The Denver Post

A plan to create a guest-worker program that has been promoted by a Parker woman for more than six years is gaining traction in the national post-election rush for immigration reform.

Helen Krieble has been pushing for a guest-worker permit system that she calls the Red Card Solution as a way to bring workers into the country to do specific jobs for specified periods of time. She has enlisted the aid of former Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams as she promotes her plan in Washington, D.C. this week.

"The election clarified the need for reform that allows something like the Red Card Solution to get some serious debate," Wadhams said Monday. "She has been tilling the ground for several years on this and it is just starting to come to fruition."

Krieble's plan would allow workers who had passed background checks and had jobs lined up to come into the U.S. using "smart cards" that would contain microchips carrying personal and biometric information.

The workers would be allowed to stay at a job in the country for up to three years. They would have an option to renew their permits at the end of that period if they still had a clean record.

The program would use private employment firms in foreign countries to match workers with jobs in the U.S. and to issue the credit card-like permits to cross the border. The plan, as Krieble has conceived it, would not require taxpayer funds.

The government already operates guest-worker programs that include the issuance of H2-A and H2-B employment visas, but Krieble said her solution would be simpler and much more nimble and responsive to employer needs for workers than the complicated visa programs.

"My sole focus is finding a usable and feasible work-permit plan," Krieble said.

Krieble, who owns the Colorado Horse Park equestrian and events center in Parker and runs The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation, said she began looking for a guest-worker solution in 1995, when the horse park was raided by immigration agents looking for illegal workers. They found three.

Krieble said the incident involved government agents using dogs, clubs and leg chains, and was traumatic for everyone at the horse park.

Krieble developed her plan and earned the backing of some conservative heavyweights early on, including Newt Gingrich.

Her plan has been panned by some on both ends of the political spectrum.

Some conservatives say it would provide businesses a cheap labor pool at the expense of citizens who need jobs. Some immigrant rights groups have criticized it for the second-class status it would confer on workers and the fact that it does not create any path to citizenship.

Krieble bills the solution, on her website, as "a reform plan that wins elections and is good for America."

Nancy Lofholm: 970-256-1957, nlofholm@denverpost.com or twitter.com/nlofholm

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