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Allen, Webb Are Not Spotlighting Their Positions on Immigration

To address the question of the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, Allen wants stepped-up punishment of their employers, Wadhams said. Strict enforcement, Allen reasons, will dry up the source of jobs over time. Allen backs expanded guest-worker programs that supply migrant labor to farms and skilled employees to tech companies.

That position is a key difference between Allen and Webb, who rails against corporate interests and bemoans the struggle of the middle class. He criticizes large-scale guest-worker programs, saying more oversight is needed so jobs do not go to cheaper foreign labor. Unlike Allen, Webb supports giving a path to legalization to immigrants who have been in the United States long enough to have planted deep roots.

"That in some way means sorting out people who have long ties with their community in the name of fairness and reality," Webb said. But he added: "I'm not for amnesty. I want to make that clear."

Webb said the Herndon day-labor center is an acceptable way to locally manage the effects of a failed federal immigration system. On his Web site, he calls for the United States to strengthen border security above all else and to turn next to the questions of illegal immigrants and a guest-worker plan. In an interview, he did not emphasize the need for border security as strongly. And he added a fourth component: pressuring -- and helping -- Mexico to stem migration through economic development.

Webb has been endorsed by a group of Latino leaders called Adelante Con Webb, which chose Webb in part for his vision of a broad overhaul of immigration laws, said Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada (D), a member of the group.

But Tejada said the endorsement came only after Webb met with the group and justified his views on affirmative action, which he has called "state-sponsored racism." Now Webb says he supports it for blacks but not for other ethnic minorities, unless poor whites are included. Webb says the position is based on fairness and hews to the program's original intent.

"We really understood and realized that this man really is about opportunity," Tejada said.

Allen earned the endorsement of the Latino Coalition, a nonpartisan advocacy group that has often backed GOP proposals and is headed by former Bush appointee Hector V. Barreto, who resigned as head of the Small Business Administration in April. Robert de Posada, the Latino Coalition's president, called Webb's affirmative action position "extremely insulting."

As Virginia governor, de Posada said, Allen "opened doors for Hispanics" by appointing several Latinos, including former Virginia Transportation secretary Robert E. Martinez. That prompted the coalition, which favors legalization for illegal immigrants, to overlook Allen's immigration views.

Staff writer Michael D. Shear contributed to this report.

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