Roaring Fork Valley activists hopeful about Senate immigration reform bill |

Roaring Fork Valley activists hopeful about Senate immigration reform bill

John Colson
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Two Roaring Fork Valley immigration activists — one a founder of AJUA (Association of Youths United in Action) and the other an immigration attorney active in immigrant-rights issues — said on Thursday they are hopeful that an immigration-reform bill now before the U.S. Senate can help keep families and communities together.

The Senate bill, sponsored by a bipartisan group of eight senators, passed out of a Senate committee on May 21 and is headed for a full debate on the Senate floor.

But both Alex Alvarado, 20, of Carbondale, and attorney Jennifer Smith said they remain vaguely worried that the Senate version may end up being diluted by hostile amendments or simply ignored in favor of an expected competing version from the U.S. House of Representatives.

House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday announced that the Senate version, if passed, will never make it through the Republican-controlled House.

“Personally, I’m just really excited about how this conversation is actually moving,” said Alvarado, who was instrumental in the creation of the AJUA youth organization in 2010. “Actually, it’s not a conversation any more, it’s an action.”

In particular, he said, he is glad to see that the Senate version contains language to create “a pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants who have lived for long periods in the U.S. and have raised children here.

“I’m just scared that the House will want to have its own bill and just forget about the Senate bill,” Alvarado said.

He noted that under current immigration law there is no pathway to citizenship, and that families and communities often are separated by deportation policies, including “people that don’t deserve to be deported” such as parents who are undocumented themselves but have raised children who were born here and are bona fide citizens.

“With the system right now, it’s really a quick thing to split up families,” Alvarado lamented.

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