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Replacement theory rings hollow in Eagle County, where Hispanics built local culture, economy

June 17, 2022, 10:37 am
Vail’s construction industry depends on skilled immigrant and local Hispanic workers.

Vail and Eagle County long ago disproved the great replacement theory that falsely claims people of color are coming to take jobs from white people.

Many of the people who make up the county’s 30-plus-percent Hispanic or Latino population were here first, moving from northern New Mexico or other parts of the United States to work in mining, farming and ranching in the late 19th century – long before the chairlifts went in at Vail in 1962.

More recent arrivals from Mexico and across Latin America have been coming either as tourists, investors or resort, construction and landscape workers since Vail’s inception.

There is no “replacement” when you have been here all along helping to build one of the world’s leading mountain resort destinations. And the symbiosis between Vail and Mexico is now nearly 60 years old.

But in a week that saw the 10th anniversary of DACA and federal hate crimes charges against an alleged mass shooter touting the debunked replacement theory, acute labor shortages continue to cripple the tourism industry, exacerbate supply chain issues and contribute to runaway inflation.

Rarely has it been more clear — both nationally and locally — that the United States needs to reverse the policies of the last six years and increase legal immigration and temporary work visas.

And DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients, many of whom are serving in vulnerable and vital frontline jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, should immediately be put on a path to citizenship.

Instead, the congresswoman for the majority of Eagle County – at least through the June 28 primary – Lauren Boebert of Silt, insists on spreading the dangerous and deadly replacement conspiracy theory.

Lauren Boebert

“Yes, there is definitely a replacement theory that’s going on right now,” Boebert said last year in a Youtube video. “We are killing American jobs and bringing in illegal aliens from all over the world to replace them if Americans will not comply.”

Boebert faces Montrose Republican state Sen. Don Coram in the June 28 primary. Coram’s campaign has not responded to email requests for comment on these issues.

Asked about the extreme violence associated with the conspiracy theory and whether it should be repudiated by politicians, Boebert spokesman Benjamin Stout replied it was a creation of Democrats.

“Regarding replacement theory, it was first espoused by members of the Democrat party long before Congresswoman Boebert,” Boebert spokesman Benjamin Stout emailed, citing Fox News. Its origins are much more complex than that.

Local candidates for state legislative office, where lawmakers have little control over federal immigration policies, were asked earlier this year to weigh in on the importance of immigration and the overall Hispanic workforce to the economy of Eagle County and Colorado as a whole.

Specifically, Republican Matt Solomon of Eagle and Democrat Dylan Roberts of Avon, seeking the state Senate District 8 seat in November, were asked this question by RealVail.com:

RV: Colorado has a large Latin American immigration population and an ongoing labor shortage in industries from outdoor recreation to construction to agriculture. What is your stance on immigration in the current economic climate?

Dylan Roberts

Dylan Roberts replied: “As chair of the Business Affairs & Labor Committee in the Colorado House, solving our state’s ongoing labor shortage — especially in the Western Slope’s hospitality, tourism, and agricultural industries — is top of mind. Given this, it is imperative that Colorado continues to foster an accepting environment for immigrants, including pathways to citizenship and worker visas. Our Latin American and immigrant communities in Senate District 8 are an integral part of the region and have helped the district run during the challenges presented throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and long before that. If given the opportunity to serve as the district’s next State Senator, I would look forward to working with fellow legislators, our business leaders, and immigrant communities to address not only the complex questions surrounding immigration in our state, but also workforce development, and expanding our local economies.”

Matt Solomon

Matt Solomon: “As a third-generation American, I myself come from immigrant roots. Immigration is a critical issue we must address. Nations must be clear when they deal with people moving into their territories who are not citizens by birth. For example, Japan allows almost no immigration. Other nations have opened their borders for long periods of time to extensive immigration. Many policies work, but our current open border policy is not working. Instead, we should expand the categories of legal immigration with a mindful respect for the time, effort, and passion offered by those legal immigrants that already make up our citizenship. Let’s not detract from the value of our citizenship or economic climate by devaluing that citizenship with a diminishing return of entitlements.”

Republican Savannah Wolfson of Oak Creek and Democrat Meghan Lukens of Steamboat Springs are seeking the state House District 26 seat in November. Wolfson still has to get past Eagle’s Glenn Lowe in the June 28 primary, but he has not returned calls and emails from RealVail.com seeking comment on a variety of issues. Here are Wolfson and Lukens’ replies:

Meghan Lukens

Meghan Lukens: “Our Latin American community is an integral and wonderful part of our community, especially in House District 26. Not only do we value the Latin American community, but I also hope to work with this community extensively at the State Legislature by advocating for worker visas, access to educational opportunities, promotion of an equitable environment, and the creation of new affordable housing programs that meet the needs of working families. Furthermore, addressing our ongoing labor shortage, especially in central industries across House District 26, is a major focus. Should I have the honor of being elected to represent the people of HD26 in the State House, I would prioritize addressing the ongoing labor shortage, economic policy that benefits everyone, and supporting our immigrant communities.”

Savannah Wolfson

Savannah Wolfson: “I love this question! Legal immigration, labor, and free trade across borders is good for our economy. Work creates prosperity, and we have a shortage of workers that did not re-enter the work force after the economic shutdowns. We have created a massive bureaucracy at our border that discourages legal immigration and incentivizes illegal immigration. I don’t like when I talk to my friends and hear that they waited 7+ years to come here legally and happened to win the immigration lottery. Imagine all the brain power and strong work ethic we are keeping out because we don’t streamline the process! In addition, our open borders policy has empowered the drug cartels and human traffickers, making life worse for people living under the cartels in Mexico, and worse for American citizens (fentanyl coming over the border being an obvious example). We should make legal immigration easier and illegal immigration more difficult, so that we know for sure that anyone coming illegally has criminal intentions.”

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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