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NAVARRETTE: A 'red card' to break immigration impasse

  • Helen Krieble explains The Red Card Solution: a simple, free-market answer to temporary foreign workers in the U.S. It's not a path to citizenship. It's a path to legality for workers and the employers who need them. (PRNewsFoto/redcardsolution.com, Sam Hurd)

Perplexed by the immigration debate? Helen Krieble has a solution. It's called the "Red Card Solution."

The 69-year-old grandmother of nine is the president of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation, which is named after her grandfather — a chemist and entrepreneur who, in 1953, invented and successfully marketed a special sealant for metal. She also owns and operates the Colorado Horse Park, an international equestrian and events center in Parker, Colo.

Anyone who raises or trains horses learns two things quickly: This is a job that Americans often don't want to do; and Mexican immigrants will take the jobs and are attentive enough to be good with the animals. But if the immigrants are here illegally, and you can't hire them, that's a problem.

Helen Krieble solves problems. So, a few years ago, she came up with the Red Card Solution. Newt Gingrich endorsed the concept during one of the 2012 Republican presidential debates.

The plug was a mixed blessing.

"Newt got the details wrong, and made it sound too much like amnesty," she told me.

Red cards are not amnesty. They're renewable work permits for the undocumented without permanent legal residency or citizenship. Some in Congress are interested.

"There's a database that matches workers and employers," Krieble said. "And it would be open to all people who need work permits, including those who are illegal now and foreign workers who want to come. You have to go through a national security check, and you must have a job. Forty-eight hours later, you're in the U.S. as a legal worker."

That was simple.

While Washington could get mired in the debate over citizenship and come up empty-handed, red cards would probably be easier to push through. People could work legally. Families could stay together. And the Obama administration's grotesque deportation machine could be scrapped This is a big improvement on the status quo. Maybe not better than the 844-page bill from the Senate's "Gang of Eight." But better than nothing.


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