RIP Richard Lamm, an ally for a stable population and reasonable immigration | Open
On July 29, Richard D. Lamm, governor of Colorado for three terms in the 1970s and 1980s, died of complications from pulmonary embolism. He was a week away from his 86th birthday.
Lamm was a Democrat who received his JD degree from the University of California at Berkeley, served in the United States military, and became a lawyer for the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Commission. After his third term as governor ended, Lamm served as executive director of the Center for Public Policy at the University of Denver and wrote several books.
During his 12 years as governor of Colorado, Lamm spoke without flinching about the issues most important to him – protecting the fragile environment, defending women’s rights and promoting common sense immigration. . Lamm, who criticized overdevelopment and the relentless sprawl it engenders, opposed Interstate 470, a proposed circumferential highway around the Denver metro area. Years later, and due to endless development, the highway was built. Today Denver has some of the most congested highways in the country, and most of Colorado’s open spaces are only a distant memory, as housing projects paved what was once rural land. Lamm knew and loved the Colorado countryside; in 1974, running on his campaign to limit growth, he crossed the state to promote his platform.
Because he adds millions of new residents to the population of the United States each year, Lamm, unlike many Democrats with similar academic and professional degrees, has bluntly criticized federal immigration policy as ill-conceived, destructive. for the environment and harmful to low-wage American workers.
In 2003, Lamm gave his most famous speech, “I have a plan to destroy America”. By the time of Lamm’s speech, Congress had passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and the Immigration Act of 1990. Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush had signed the two pieces of legislation that opened up the borders to more people. illegal immigration, and created more employment-based visas that, over the past three decades, have helped displace millions of low-skilled and highly-skilled American workers.
Foresight, Lamm foresaw the growing detrimental effect of immigration on the United States, as well as the accumulated power his supporters had over Congress and the media. Lamm’s eight-point agenda, which he captioned “and many parts are underway,” is about making America a bilingual, bicultural country and encouraging immigrants to keep their language and culture at home. instead of assimilating, as previous waves of immigrants have done.
Lamm’s most compelling point was that all of his observations should be treated as “off limits… taboo”. Make sure the opposition is hushed up on unfounded xenophobic and racist accusations that end the debate. Because immigration was “once good,” Lamm predicted that his advocates would insist it “must always be good.” Lamm predicted that the immigration problems he identified in 2003 would worsen in the years to come.
Although often at odds with Lamm, particularly on immigration, the Denver Post editorial board wrote a rather gracious commentary on the former governor, and described him as “a kind, humble and generous man. … A man of conviction… whose immigration policy was radically different from that of the modern Democratic Party.
I have known Dick at several conferences in Washington, DC where we met, started and maintained a friendship. On a trip to Denver years ago, Dick and his wife, Dottie, invited me over to their house for dinner. Dottie, once a candidate for the US Senate from Colorado; Dick and I talked about his 2003 speech and lamented how it came to be.
Dick had a long and busy life. In a time when most politicians speak double talk or test the direction of the wind before addressing a crowd, Dick expressed what he was thinking even when he knew his enemies were ready to pounce. As the Post wrote, “Colorado will be poorer without offering its unvarnished and genuine take on the most important policies of our time here. “
Governor Lamm’s many allies in building a stable and sustainable population and manageable immigration will deeply regret his strong and rational voice. The fierce battle Dick predicted will be harder without him.
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written on immigration for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]