Illegal immigration and border security are the primary topics for a public meeting today hosted by Republican Congressional candidate Scott Tipton.
Tipton, a small business owner from Cortez, is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Colorado's Third Congressional District, which includes Routt and Moffat counties. He is opposed by Libertarian Bert Sargent and Democratic incumbent John Salazar, a San Luis Valley farmer and rancher who was first elected to Congress in 2004.
Throughout his campaign, Tipton has criticized Salazar's voting record on illegal immigration issues. Most recently, that criticism has focused on Salazar's opposition to the Secure Fence Act, which President George W. Bush recently signed into law. The act authorizes construction of 698 miles of reinforced, double-layered fencing along portions of the nearly 2,000-mile-long U.S. border with Mexico.
The estimated cost of the fence is $6 billion.
Salazar voted against the act when it came before the U.S. House in September.
"This leadership should be more concerned about fiscal responsibility and immigration reform instead of spending critical time and money trying to : further partisan political rhetoric," Salazar said in a written statement after the vote. "We need real immigration reform, not rhetoric. I supported the House's efforts to pass the Border Security Bill. And I supported the House's efforts to establish a tamper-proof ID system. Now it is time to put aside partisan politics and develop a comprehensive immigration reform plan that addresses the problems faced by our farmers and ranchers."
Tipton called Salazar's comment "lip service."
"Scott feels very strongly in a 'secure the border first' strategy for tackling the problem," said Dirk Hallen, Tipton's campaign manager. "It's not just an illegal immigration issue it's an issue of methamphetamine and other drugs that are coming across with illegal immigrants."
Salazar voted in support of the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007. The act authorizes the use of millions of dollars to hire additional U.S. Border Patrol agents, build new detention facilities and fund border patrol operations and technology.
Hallen said Tipton has been hosting town hall meetings across the district, which spans 29 counties in western and southern Colorado, to discuss illegal immigration and border security.
Tipton is also scheduled to attend tonight's candidate forum in Craig at 6 p.m. at Centennial Mall on W. Victory Way.