Faith leaders pledge to stand with immigrants |

Faith leaders pledge to stand with immigrants

Alex Zorn

Yesenia Arreloa tells her story of facing deportation and family separation with her family by her side on Mother's Day.
Alex Zorn / Post Independent |

On Mother’s Day communities of local faith-based organizations joined together with members of the Garfield County immigrant population to show that their concerns cut across all religions. Faith leaders from Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist, St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, Aspen Jewish Congregation and others spoke at the vigil and showed that they will stand together against deportation and family separation regardless of faith.

In celebration of the local immigrant community, the Rev. Shawna Foster announced that Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist will offer sanctuary in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“Sanctuary was offered in England in the 1600s because of an unjust justice system, and with an unjust system again, religion has been called on once again, and so Two Rivers has joined our colleagues in Denver in offering physical sanctuary here in the valley,” she said, which received resounding applause from those in attendance. “We are united because of families, families under the threat of deportation and separation.”

Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition and SOUL were among the groups to coordinate the interfaith vigil, along with Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist, in support of families who have been or who are under threat of being split by deportation.

“We feel a lot of support from local law enforcement, and so we can breathe a little.”— Rifle resident Junior Ortega

Individuals currently dealing with or who have dealt with such situations were invited to speak to the group, which by the end was around 50 people.

Yesenia Arreola, who’s grown up in Garfield County since she was 5 years old, told the crowd her struggles with immigration laws in this country and how she had her family ripped apart three years ago.

“Family separation due to a broken immigration system is extremely painful,” she said. “My family is with me today on Mother’s Day because my community supported me.”

Deportation and family separation is a concern facing millions of Americans, and both will remain in the minds of Garfield County families as the new administration’s immigration policies take shape.

“We need the whole community to get involved and stand up to the policies we are facing now,” said Sophia Clark with Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.

“We feel a lot of support from local law enforcement, and so we can breathe a little,” said Rifle resident Junior Ortega. “I feel fortunate to live in Colorado rather than what’s going on in Texas.”

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