Holtzman, ministers spar

Latino leaders call candidate's immigration views 'extremist'

— Statements made during a lunch at the Old Town Pub & Restaurant last week have ignited a war of words.

A group of Denver-area Latino ministers have responded to comments Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman made Feb. 22 at the Steamboat Springs restaurant, disputing Holtzman's declaration that illegal immigration is creating a "state of emergency" in Colorado.

"The issue of undocumented immigration is a struggle for justice and equality," wrote Fidel "Butch" Montoya in a news release, representing an interdenominational group called Confianza, the Spanish word for trust. "To talk about state of emergency for political gain, as Holtzman did, is reprehensive. ... It is simply an extremist point of view to add to the fear and hysteria over the immigration issue in Colorado and in the United States."

"As Latino pastors, we are concerned about the obstacles immigrants face, especially the undocumented, because those immigrants are vital and important members of our churches, our communities and our nation," Montoya continued. "Confianza calls upon all citizens in the state of Colorado to take a fair and educated position about undocumented immigrants. Declaring them 'a danger to our communities' creates a sense of fear and despair in the immigrant community. We must find a way to deal humanely and compassionately with undocumented immigrants."

During the public luncheon meeting in Steamboat, Holtz--man said the effect of about 400,000 illegal immigrants costs Colorado hundreds of millions a year and that insecure borders create a "national security threat" by giving terrorists a way to enter the country.

In a news release Wednesday, Holtzman demanded an apology from Confianza and called the group's statements a "partisan political attack."

"It clearly is very important for the leaders of our state to stand up on an issue that threatens the security of our hardworking taxpayers," said Holtzman, a former president of the University of Denver and one-time secretary of technology for Gov. Bill Owens. "Because of the growing numbers of illegal aliens entering the country, the Democrat governors of New Mexico and Arizona have declared that a 'state of emergency' exists in their states without being attacked by Confianza. Does the Latino ministers' criticism apply to these Democrats, or just to Republicans?"

Holtzman is running against U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez of Ar----vada for the Republican nomination for governor. The primary is August 8.

-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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