Colorado immigrants continue to press for reform
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Hundreds of immigrants to Colorado and their allies gathered near the foot of the Grand Mesa Wednesday afternoon to press lawmakers for immigration reform.
The activists delivered more than 6,000 signatures on petitions and postcards to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s staff.
“It makes my day to be a part of something like this – something bigger than myself,” said 37-year-old Dillon resident Martin Gomez, who made the three-hour drive to Grand Junction with a group of fellow immigrants Wednesday morning. “It’s encouraging that we accomplished this, and we’re moving forward. It’s one more step on the ladder we have to climb.”
Gomez said his group collected about 200 signatures in support of immigration reform in Summit County. The petitions and postcards asked Sen. Bennet and Sen. Mark Udall to push for legislation that keeps families together, creates pathways to citizenship for immigrants and protects workers’ rights.
Wednesday’s demonstration included immigrants, community leaders and religious leaders from 10 rural and mountain communities throughout the state, including Eagle, Pitkin, San Miguel and Gunnison counties.
“For many of them, it was their first time being active in the political process,” said Brendan Greene of Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. “To have so many people make the drive all the way out here was really impressive.”
Immigrant and faith groups in attendance said communities, families and human rights are at stake in the immigration-reform debate.
“As people of faith from across the state, we denounce as inhumane the enforcement measures which have resulted in the separation of families and increased fear in our faith communities,” said Ricardo Perez of the Hispanic Affairs Pastoral Project.
Gomez said the Summit group’s trip to Grand Junction is one example of growing political momentum and awareness by the local immigrant community. Gomez is one of six people who began organizing on the issue in June. Today, the group has about 60 active participants. Its next activity is a walk down Frisco’s Main Street Friday evening, Feb. 19. The event will culminate with a series of short speeches at the gazebo in the Frisco Historic Park.
“Many of the people from Summit have been living here for years and years. They’re valuable employees; they pay their taxes. They’re ready to be part of the political system, and it starts with learning how to do it,” Greene said.
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