DENVER -

Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado says he supports granting citizenship to people who came to the country illegally and serve in the U.S. military.

The Republican congressman is running against Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat. He made the comments in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press.
    
Gardner says he thinks most Americans assume immigrants who serve in the military are granted citizenship. He says he can't think of a better way to demonstrate readiness for citizenship than to serve in the armed forces.
    
Gardner says he also supports tighter border security and a guest worker program.
    
Immigrant rights groups have criticized Gardner for not supporting a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million people in the country illegally. Immigration activists staged a sit-in at his office Wednesday.