Photo: Immigrant Workers
Helen Krieble says she will never forget the day that the federal government’s black helicopters and armed agents swooped down on her equestrian facility in central Colorado.
They came in — unannounced — by the dozens, with batons drawn and police dogs snarling at the end of their leashes.
Krieble remembers the agents searching through barns and stables, demanding identification papers from each of the independent contractors who rented space in her facility for the season. Some contractors had illegal workers, who ended up in handcuffs and legs chains, thrown in the back of black vans and driven away to unknown locations.
Then the agents came to Krieble’s office, rummaging through papers and demanding documentation for each of the workers on her own staff.
“Somebody had reported that we had illegals working here. We didn’t, but some of the other contractors who rent space in our barns did,” she said, recalling the incident in a recent phone interview with Watchdog.org.
“It’s hard to imagine something like that happening in the United States. Eventually, I realized it was happening because our laws are bad,” Krieble said.
The immigration system in the United States is broken.
Krieble has a plan to fix it.
Prompted by her up-close-and-personal experience with federal immigration police, she became an activist for better immigration laws. The result is the so-called “Red Card Solution” that would create a new system of unlimited guest worker visas for foreigners to use on a short-term basis.
The entire system would be operated by private businesses, with labor offices inside the United States and abroad. Any foreign citizen could come in and apply for a job. If they get it, they would be given a temporary “red card” to enter the country and work legally — without fear that the immigration police would come swooping in with their helicopters and dogs to take them away — and would have to leave when the job was finished.
It’s the perfect solution, she said, for the types of workers who come to the United States for seasonal work and return home to their families in the winter — the immigrants Krieble is used to seeing at her equestrian facility in Parker, Colo., or in farming communities across the nation.
While participants in the program would be here legally for the duration of their employment, they would have no way to become citizens unless they left the country and sought re-entry through existing channels.
It’s a far cry from how the nation’s guest-worker permit program currently operates. The government grants 66,000 visas per year for unskilled nonagricultural workers, and another 65,000 for high-skilled workers. The government also issues about 150,000 visas annually for farm workers.
Compare that total to the estimated 1.5 million foreign farmworkers in the United States, and it’s easy to see why there’s an illegal immigration problem.