GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - A group of about 25 immigration-reform activists from the Roaring Fork and Eagle river valleys hopped a bus for Pueblo on Friday, to learn how to be leaders in a growing and increasingly insistent movement.
The local youths were part of the "Keeping Families Together" tour, a three-week effort that has so far touched down in 19 states and 90 cities across the U.S.
The Colorado leg of the tour marks the end of the traveling and the beginning of training by members of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), AJUA (the Association of Youths (Jovenes) United in Action) and others at a facility in Pueblo.
Before climbing on the bus, which came here from Grand Junction carrying about 10 activists from that city, a number of the local students gave short speeches about themselves and what they hope to do.
The current tactics of catching and deporting illegal immigrants regardless of their ties to this country or their value to their community, said Paloma Ceballos, "have shattered hundreds of thousands of families' lives" and robbed uncounted communities of the contribution made by those immigrants.
"We cannot wait any longer! We need our all of our representatives, and especially our [U.S. Rep.] Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), to help us fix our broken system by passing reform with citizenship now!" said Paloma, a board member for the CIRC and member of AJUA.
"Reform would help my parents, myself and the community I am a part of," added Elide Andrade, a junior at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale. "I believe immigrant families like mine can continue to contribute to this valley and the communities that have become extended family. Families need to be kept together and we need immigration reform now!"
More than one of the activists cited the strength of the Hispanic vote in the 2012 national elections.
"Next year I will be one of those Latino voters, and I will be supporting candidates that fight for immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship," declared Chelsi Magana, a junior at Basalt High School.